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Into The Heart Of The Country [Hardcover]

Pauline Holdstock
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

March 14 2011

Longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Set in eighteenth-century Canada, this compelling new novel takes the reader deep into unexplored territory. Appearing only fleetingly in the historical record of the Hudson’s Bay Company are the Native women who lived at the company’s Prince of Wales Fort and served as companions to the European traders -- and whose survival was bound, for better or worse, to the fortunes of those men.

Across more than two centuries, the mixed-blood woman Molly Norton, daughter of Governor Moses and personal favourite of the explorer Samuel Hearne, speaks to us from her dreams. As the story of her liaison with Hearne unfolds, we move toward its tragic consequences. When their small society is torn apart, Molly and the other women find themselves and their children abandoned by their British masters. Now -- in one of history’s cruel ironies -- they must fend for themselves in the harsh country from which their own ancestors sprang.

Unflinching, powerful and rich in moral ambiguity, Into the Heart of the Country explores a tragic meeting of cultures that still reverberates in the present day.

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?Into the Heart of the Country succeeds in being both visionary and bracingly real -- hallucinatory yet dramatically vivid -- populated both by ghosts and by a richly, desperately human cast.Her achievement here is beyond doubt and cause for acclaim.?
- Steven Heighton, author of Afterlands and Every Lost Country ()

From the Author

"Pauline Holdstock writes beautifully but without ever sacrificing reality's sharp corners and cruel truths; Into the Heart of the Country succeeds in being both visionary and bracingly real--hallucinatory yet dramatically vivid--populated both by ghosts and by a richly, desperately human cast. Her achievement here is beyond doubt and cause for acclaim." -- Steven Heighton, author of Afterlands and Every Lost Country

"Pauline Holdstock's story of Samuel Hearne and his native wife, Molly Norton, moves hauntingly through the north's shimmering purity towards 'worlds coming apart.' Bittersweet and harsh, lyrical and savage, Into the Heart of the Country places us in a landscape where - between 'shining light' and 'heavy dark' - people dream of wholeness. A beautifully written, powerful novel about dissolution and belonging, sorrow and hope." -- Beth Powning, author of The Hatbox Letters and The Sea Captain's Wife

"Read this on a wild country night when the past is as close as your front door. Pauline Holdstock has written a haunting tale about the white men and aboriginal women who founded northern Canada." -- Susan Swan, author of The Wives of Bath and What Casanova Told Me

"Pauline Holdstock's Into the Heart of the Country is beautifully written. In Samuel Hearne and Molly Norton, Holdstock has found a moving story." -- Paulette Jiles, author of The Colour of Lightning and Stormy Weather

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking, detailed, beautiful grit April 14 2011
I had read one of Holdstock's previous novel (Beyond Measure) that impressed me (though I found the gore in that book occasionally tough to take). Into the Heart of the Country seems like a completely different kind of novel. Holdstock's attention to detail and accuracy remains, though the treatment of the content seems much more in tune with the feel of the setting--a sparsely populated and unforgiving New World. The story itself is part tragedy of human hubris, the fallacy that man can conquer nature, and part love/conflict story between members of two grossly different civilizations. Holdstock's treatment of the historical figures is delicate, withholding judgement on actions that seemed (to me) appalling. Further, I think her portrayal of Individual thoughts, motivations, and language seems genuine. Often in Historical Fiction authors project their own language conventions or beliefs onto characters whose language style and thoughts would have been shaped by vastly different circumstances hundreds of years ago. However, Holdstock seems to deftly capture dialogue and internal thoughts in a way that seems genuine and does not demand much effort to suspend disbelief. While reading, my only serious complaint was about the ending, which (without spoiling it) I felt could have been treated more compassionately (though this may be an indication of my own emotional involvement with the story ;). A fantastic read for those who enjoy accurate and gripping historical fiction!
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