Monday, April 13, 2009

"The Chippewa have a name for it - it means 'the sickness of long thinking.'" - Parker

I read Stef Penney's The Tenderness of Wolves last week.

I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, especially the kind that takes place in snowy wintery places where people are fighting to survive. I don't like snow in copious amounts. Light dustings, great. Short showers, then a sunbreak, perfect. But the idea of living in a place where snow is permanently on the ground from say November to May, that makes me want to vomit. So I didn't think I'd like this story, set in in the winter in 1860's Canadian Northern Territory.

But this novel transcends that genre beautifully, portraying real people and unresolvedness in a way that makes you want to read more and more and more. When it ended, I so wanted to keep going with the characters.

A few favorite lines:

"I watched him try to be stoic and tough, to cultivate a foolhardy courage and the casual disrespect for danger that is common currency in the backwoods. To be a man you have to be brave and enduring, to make light of pain and hardship. Never complain. Never falter. I saw him fail. We should have lived in Toronto, or New York, then maybe it wouldn't have mattered. But what pass for heroics in a softer world are daily chores here." - Mrs. Ross, page 20

"She has always thought of him as a foreigner, too, with his dark hair and skin. She considers herself a well-traveled woman, and from each place she has been to, she has brought away a prejudice as a souvenir." - Mrs. Ross, page 31

"So that is how it happens: mutual need is what makes people cooperate - nothing to do with trust or kindness or any such sentimental notion." - Mrs. Ross, page 116

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