Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

Title: The Tenderness of Wolves
Author: Stef Penney
ISBN-10: 1847240674
Publisher: Quercus/2008
Pages: 450
Rating: 4/5

I had bought this book to be read for the 2nd Canadian Challenge. I had started it but for no apparent reason set it aside. I picked it up again a few days back and was thinking why did I leave it in the first place. It is suspenseful and is very gripping after 50 pages. One just needs to go one.

It is set in 1867, Canada in a settlement of Dove River. A man, Laurent Jammet, a trapper, trader and loner,
is brutally murdered and Mrs. Ross finds him. She also finds that her seventeen year old son is missing. She has no way of knowing if he is involved in the killing. Parker who is an old friend of Jammet, arrives into the settlement and is taken to be a suspect of the murder and jailed. Mrs Ross, after helping Parker escape the jail, sets about tracking down the killer as well her son. It is harsh winters but that does not deter her from her goal.

We find many other characters setting about in journey to catch the killers. No one knows who truly killed Jammet, who had no real friends except perhaps Francis, Mrs Ross' son. The past and present both intermingle at some point. The story being told from the perspective of its characters, although Mrs Ross is the main one. We get glimpses of her relationship with Francis and her husband, Angus, who somehow is resentful of the boy.

This is a very atmospheric book, told from the point of view of immigrants, Indians and others. It very suspenseful too, which continues till the end. Mrs Ross and Parker are bonded in subtle ways although both keep away from each other as much as they can.

The short chapters help us keep going. After the second half, one can't put the book away. The journey by the various characters is the search of one's inner self. Thats how I saw it, felt it. At the end of it, it gets the families closer to each other.

This is a somewhat sad book, with complex characters and has that underlying message that wolves attack only when they are threatened. Unlike human beings. Maybe the animal world does have something to teach us. It is not a book for everyone but for those who like serious reading, I say go for it. I am glad I read it in 2008!