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Fireside

The Tenderness of Wolves

I never seem to know what to read next. My husband just picks the next book on his library pile... I wish I could approach the choice in such a devil-may-care manner. What with library books, my own books on my tbr shelf (who am I kidding? 'shelves'), books on my Kindle, books on my Nook... and then there's fiction or non-fiction... what do I fancy starting today? It's horrendous and I agonise terribly over it, sometimes taking a couple of days to make the decision (though in those cases I generally have a long non-fiction I'm already reading so I'm not entirely without reading matter).

I have one book that's proving particularly awkward at the moment: Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I've been hearing good things about this fantasy novel on Goodreads, so decided to reserve it from my library with a view to reading it for Carl's Once Upon a Time challenge, which starts around the 21st. of this month. It came quickly and I was pleased, thinking I could renew it easily before the challenge starts. Wrong. Someone else wants it and the due date is the 16th. I now can't decide whether to read it anyway and have it not count for the challenge, or hang on and see if another branch fills the reserve slot as there are three copies in Devon. And I am of course stressing over this quite ridiculously...

Anyway, fed up with myself, I did something uncharacteristic of me... I grabbed a book at random off my tbr shelf to read. And it was this:

Wolves



The Tenderness of Wolves by Scottish author, Stef Penney, has been on my tbr shelf for what must easily be six or seven years. In fact I see it was mentioned in a post I did in December 2007 as a book I wanted to read in 2008. So, oh dear... at least seven years. It's a real shame I waited that long to read it... but is it? There's a theory that there's a right time to read every book you own and as I seem to be reading a lot of books featuring mountains, wilderness, winter and so on... perhaps this was indeed the perfect time for me to read this particular book? It certainly feels like it to be honest...

A bit about 'this' book. The small fictional settlement of Dove River is situated on Georgian Bay on the Canadian side of Lake Huron. In 1867 it's an isolated spot where the main law enforcement comes via The Hudson Bay Company, although by this time it is starting to lose power and influence. Fur trappers, made up of the native Indians and lone white hunters, often French, are fed up with the company's abuse of its power and are starting their own fur trading company.

The Ross family, living in Dove River, consists of the husband, Angus, 'Mrs' Ross - whose first name we never learn - and their adopted teenage son, Francis. Francis is very friendly with a French trapper, Laurent Jammet, who lives close by. He's closer to Laurent by far than to his parents, relations between the boy and his parents are, in fact, rather strained. It's Mrs. Ross who finds Jammet's dead body in his shack and also realises that her son is missing. The village immediately suspects Francis of killing the Frenchman and running off but Mrs. Ross is convinced of her son's innocence.

She sets off into the wilderness with William Parker, another trapper and stranger to her, to try to track her son down. She has a fear of 'wilderness' but faces that fear in order to save her son. This trip will be life-altering. Secrets will uncover themselves and she will discover an inner strength she never knew she had.

OK, well that description is a bit sparse, I realise that. There are quite a few characters I've not mentioned - the company man, Donald Moody and his Indian side-kick, Jacob. The Knox family, husband, Andrew, is the town magistrate who has two very different daughters. A searcher called Sturrock who has an agenda of his own in coming to the settlement. A religious settlement far into the north, peopled by Norwegians, is quite fascinating. The novel is peopled by folk who are very human. They give in to temptations, they're sometimes mean-spirited, jealous, selfish, judgemental. But they also, like all of us, still try to do the right thing. Well, some of them do.

The reason my description is sparse is because of the layers in this book... it's full of secrets, not just people's behaviour but mysteries. Two young girls disappeared in the wilderness fifteen years ago. What happened to them? What's the mysterious bone tablet that the world and his mother-in-law seem to be after, that belonged to Laurent Jammet, and where is it? To talk too much about the plot would be to give away too many spoilers and it really is better in my opinion to go into this book not knowing very much.

It can probably be deduced from all this that I absolutely loved this book. And so I did. I loved the very human characters, particularly Mrs. Ross, but also Donald Moody, William Parker, and the 'less attractive' but intelligent Knox girl, Maria. I loved the complicated plot and the mystery element very much too. But most of all the setting of the Canadian wilderness was beyond wonderful. I was totally smitten to be honest and had to go and look to see exactly where Georgian Bay is. It's here on the east side of Lake Huron:

Georgian Bay


(Map from Visit Georgian Bay.) I imagine it to be stunning, various photos online certainly support that. And one tiny little coincidence, one of my favourite songs is Christian Island by Gordon Lightfoot. Where is Christian Island? In Georgian Bay of course. I also realise that twice in my life I haven't exactly been a million miles away from this area - firstly when we visited Niagara Falls in 1996 and secondly on a visit to The Bass Islands and Put in Bay on Lake Erie. I'd like to read more about Canadian history and exploration so will have to look for something. I'm sure there must be books written about The Hudson Bay Company but am wondering if there are other books out there. Any recommendations would be welcome.

The Tenderness of Wolves is my book six for Bev's Mount TBR 2015 challenge.

Comments

I actually can totally understand the 'what shall I do' thing you're going through.

I haven't gone through it with a book to read, but I have with writing something when like you I've had to decide if to write it 'now' and not let it count for something or write it later.

Keep telling yourself 'it's meant to be fun and for enjoyment. It is not meant to be stressful'. I can't promise it'll help, but you can try *g*
Well, there have been developments. *g* Another library branch has filled the order. Exeter I suspect. But now I have to decide whether to renew it quickly, which would only give me another week if it's reserved again *or* take a chance and wait a while and see what happens. Honestly... I should have forked out and bought it as it would have been worth it not to have all this hassle! LOL!

OK... I shall try that thing. I thought you would understand my dilemma though. *G*
Oh, dear. It really is complicated, isn't it?

Yes, maybe you should have done that thing.

Good luck with making the decision.

I hope you succeed. Oh, I do; I really do.
The Tenderness of Wolves sounds like my cup of tea so I must look out for it. Thank you!
I loved it and am going to bore everyone I know now trying to get them to read it. ;-)
I enjoyed reading about this one, but I shall be very interested to know what you think of the Goblin Emperor, since I keep seeing mention of it at the moment. Whenever you actually get around to it, anyway!

Goblin Emperor does seem to be flavour of the month at the moment. The reserve has been filled so mine is now free again. But of course I now can't decide whether to renew it quickly, giving me a week after the start of the challenge to read it, or take a gamble and hope no one else reserves it until its due date. Whatever happens I will be reading it within the next few weeks even if I have to buy the bloody thing. LOL!
If you've ever been to Toronto or Ottowa, you were just on the other side of the peninsula from Georgian Bay (about a 2.5 hour drive), but that's still quite a haul from there.

I live only about 25 miles west of Detroit, and from here to Parry Sound, Ontario, on Georgian Bay, would be a six hour drive!

But only think about the travel time commitment in the days when horseback was the speedy way to travel! The area the characters had to search would be daunting even today. That's one of the reasons that books like The Tenderness of Wolves, set in the vastness of the Canadian wilderness, are so fascinating to me. I think I need to seek it out, perhaps on Kindle if the library doesn't have it.

...Of course, my dad — the Speed-Demon King — used to be able to drive from here to Tennessee in 10-12 hours, if we restricted bathroom breaks to coincide with refueling stops and ate finger food (sandwiches, cold fried chicken pre-removed from the bone...) while we kept moving... which is neither here nor there, really...

P.S. U.S. maps make Lake Huron look only about half, or 2/3 its actual size, because they usually highlight only the waters on the U.S. side of the border. In reality it's such a vast lake!
That's quite a haul from you. Amazing how these places look local on N. American maps... but really aren't. LOL! I suspect I was as close those previous times as I'll ever be as I've no idea if we'll ever make it back across the pond again. My husband's health, my tendency not to care for flying (though it's not anywhere close to a phobia) and of course the cost all count against it. I'm not sad... some never get there at all and we've had three trips which were all wonderful.

Yes... one family in the book travelled to Sault St. Marie for the theatre and it took them days to get there. If people really did that - and I suspect they did - that's dedication. I was fascinated by it all and wish there were more books that tell you about that sort of thing. I suppose they may be out there... I just need to find them. One of Nevada Barr's 'Anna Pigeon' books, A Superior Death, is not a bad book about Lake Superior by the way.

10 to 12 hours for that trip is going some. We took several days to get from Memphis to Columbus, Ohio... mind you we were meandering and exploring a *lot*. *G*

I think it's hard for us in the UK to truly take in the size of lakes that are probably almost as big as England. The idea just about takes my breath away to be honest. Love it.
Where does time go? I thought it was only a couple of days ago you posted this, and I wasn't too late popping back when I had more time - but it's ages ago! I swear time makes a kind of buzzing sound these days, just so much faster...

I really like the sound of this one - and that you loved it so much. It doesn't hurt that it's set in 1800s Canada either, and around the Hudson Bay Company. I've read other books set around there/then, but... can I remember any of them right now? I'll have a squizz at my shelves, just in case any are still there... *g*
Where does time go?

I don't know, if you ever find out, let me know. *g* Never worry about taking time to comment. It happens to me all the time. Especially this last few weeks, what with half-term and my cold and then this weekend I had a 24 hour bug thing. I keep seeing posts that I think I'll go back and comment on and then it slips my mind. Your two latest LJ posts will get commented on later I promise!

I thought this book was excellent. Of course tastes vary and it may not float your boat at all. *G* You can never tell. If you remember any other books do shout.