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Last Crossing, The [Paperback]

Guy Vanderhaeghe
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duty, honor, and love, sublimely rendered March 5 2003
Once in awhile, a book comes along that haunts its readers' thoughts for years. The Last Crossing is such a book.
Set in the latter part of the 1800s, in the western U.S. and Canada, and in Victorian England, this is a tale of a a man lost in the wilderness, and those who seek to find him, including his very stiff British father, two very different brothers, a pair of star-crossed lovers, a quirky journalist, a saloon-keeper, and an Indian guide. They all suffer from painful pasts that taunt them into life-changing courses of action.
Telling the story from their own points of view, the characters look back at their own lives. This drives each of them to live up to their sense of duty, to defend their own honor, and ultimately to act in one way or another because they either love, or can't love.
Scenes of the early west tear at the heart--caravans, Indian villages, conflicts, battles, disease, death, tragedy, comic relief. And love, sometimes unrequited, and at a distance. There is one scene that will stay with me for years. In it, two lovers find each other, their desperate searches ending and beginning in an instant. The night air, the stars, the prairie wind and their hearts carry them to where they couldn't dream of going.
The characters speak with undeniable truth to and about themselves. They narrate, but also wonder about their own personal honor and how they can love despite their pasts and the hard lessons that duty and love teach them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Wests, one good story Feb. 16 2004
For more than 100 years, authors have sent their heroes into the twin uncharted territories of the wild West and the untamed heart, but few have risen above horse opera or dime novel. Owen Wister's "The Virginian" and Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" remain the gold standard for literature of the frontier West.
Uh, make that the American West. It's good to be reminded, as Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Last Crossing" does, that Canada also had a vast, unexplored western territory. And while rails were rapidly being laid across virgin earth and Custer was hurtling toward his last stand, no territorial border truly divided the American and Canadian wildernesses. Marauding Indians, greedy whites, hungry animals and a budding mythology simply didn't appreciate international boundaries.
Blending intense action with masterly characterization, Vanderhaeghe appeals on various levels. Whether his huge popularity in Canada will trickle south of the border remains to be seen, but this new novel is a sharp and eloquent import. The big question is: Can American readers embrace a sprawling adventure of higher literary value?
He has sometimes been dunned by critics for excruciatingly detailed prose, but such criticism is neither warranted in this case nor unexpected in modern commercial publishing, where action is more highly valued than character.
Vanderhaeghe disregards those boundaries. "The Last Crossing" is a far more satisfying story of a small band's westward journey than McMurtry's rambling, four-part Berrybender Narratives, which began in 2002 with "The Sin Killer" and will end later this year with "Folly and Glory.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting, finely crafted tale Jan. 20 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
A father blessed with three sons loses his wife with the birth of the twins. Without the tender caring of a mother, the Gaunt twins, Simon and Charles learn to depend on each other while Addington, the eldest turns to a gardener, who provides him with the affection and guidance his father does not. Unable to find a meaningful existence in London, Simon, the more sensitive of the two disappears to become a missionary among the Aboriginals in North America. Anxious about losing his favourites son, their father send Charles and Addington to find him. In Fort Benton, Montana, they hire a metis by the name of Jerry Potts to help find their brother. Mr. Potts, of Scottish and Blackfoot decent, has lost the acceptance of his wife and thereby his sone, straddles the world of the Aboriginal man and the European. Lucy Stoveall, another Fort Benton seeks revenge against the Kelso brothers who have run off after the murder of her sister. Estranged from her husband, she manages to join the Gaunt brother entourage as a cook in hopes of running across the Kelso. Lovesick Custis Straw chases after Mrs. Stoveall with the intent of returning her to the safety of Fort Benton and his loving care. Mr. Vanderhaeghe weaves a terrific tale about the settlers, the metis, whiskey traders and aboriginal life. “The Final Crossing” is an exciting, finely crafted tale.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Mr. Vanderhaeghe Sept. 3 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The detail in the book was convincing. I especially enjoyed the exploration of the lives of people who belonged to two cultures, First Nations and White. I would have enjoyed a woman character in this situation. A very good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My, My, My Aug. 16 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a delightful surprise to find yet another top notch Canadian Writer. Saskatchewan should be proud. If you are looking for a delightful, challenging, historical account of fictitious Canadians, look no further than "The Last Crossing"
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5.0 out of 5 stars The writing alone rates March 8 2004
a top score. The author writes a 19th century novel the way it might have been written 150 years ago. In terms of scope, I think this novel closely resembles A.B. Guthrie's, The Big Sky, more than anything else. It takes time to tackle these Post Modern pieces and it takes a while to care about anyone in here but gradually the reader begins to understand the relationships. A lot of stuff goes unsaid which I think speaks well for any writer. We know that Aloysius is a devoted friend to Custis and we figure it out without being clubbed with it. The relationship between Jerry Potts and Custis also figures in this vein. I would like to have read more of Potts' story. My only criticism and it is mild is that Charles narrates a bit too long.
If you want to read something ultimately satisfying in non traditional ways, this might be your ticket.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A western about the Canadian west!
I just wanted to throw my two cents in and say what a wonderful book this is. I wont go back over all the plot as that has been done enough here, but "The Last Crossing" does for... Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2006 by FRED
5.0 out of 5 stars the Last Crossing
The book was chosen by CBC Radio's Canada Reads programme as THE book Canadians should read (2003). Hmm. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Canadian Novel
I tried to read the Englishman's Boy but couldn't, so I was hesitant to read the Last Crossing at my wife's behest. Hesitantly I began. But soon I was right in to it. Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2004 by jim
5.0 out of 5 stars richly woven text with subtle character development
The Last Crossing was a book I read after it won the CBC Canada Reads contest. I love Canadian literature and had never read this author's work before so I thought I would give it... Read more
Published on June 14 2004 by "bookishgal"
4.0 out of 5 stars Great storis of thw old west makes this a entertaining novel
Hard to get into but when it does it's a great novel.It's fullof suspence,adventure,romance and action everything a novel should have. Read more
Published on June 6 2004 by Jake
2.0 out of 5 stars The book that never ends
What a struggle to get through this book. I thot it would never end. With all due respect to the author, having read many a fiction and non fiction book about the area in... Read more
Published on May 12 2004
3.0 out of 5 stars Not very interesting
If you've read Lonesome Dove, then you've already read a similar, but much better book (and LD has it's own faults!). Read more
Published on April 26 2004 by Snappy
4.0 out of 5 stars "A boom town draws rogues like a jam jar draws wasps."
Part historical drama, romance, and character study THE LAST CROSSING has a lot to offer - and rightly so. Read more
Published on April 11 2004 by S. Calhoun
4.0 out of 5 stars Lively melodrama of the Northwest frontier in the 1870s.
In this broad saga of the New Territories, from Montana into Canada, Guy Vanderhaeghe brings to life the search of two Englishmen for their lost brother, Simon Gaunt, who has... Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2004 by Mary Whipple
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