The Tenderness of Wolves Hardcover – Large Print, Dec 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The frigid isolation of European immigrants living on the 19th-century Canadian frontier is the setting for British author Penney's haunting debut. Seventeen-year-old Francis Ross disappears the same day his mother discovers the scalped body of his friend, fur trader Laurent Jammet, in a neighboring cabin. The murder brings newcomers to the small settlement, from inexperienced Hudson Bay Company representative Donald Moody to elderly eccentric Thomas Sturrock, who arrives searching for a mysterious archeological fragment once in Jammet's possession. Other than Francis, no real suspects emerge until half-Indian trapper William Parker is caught searching the dead man's house. Parker escapes and joins with Francis's mother to track Francis north, a journey that produces a deep if unlikely bond between them. Only when the pair reaches a distant Scandinavian settlement do both characters and reader begin to understand Francis, who arrived there days before them. Penney's absorbing, quietly convincing narrative illuminates the characters, each a kind of outcast, through whose complex viewpoints this dense, many-layered story is told. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
a tense and delicately written thriller - The Observer Observer . a quite remarkable debut novel.' Birmingham Post Birmingham Post "This subtle and superb novel brings the freezing landscape of the Canadian woods to such vivid life that the landscape itself becomes a strong character within the story. Once you have dived into the tiny, closeted world of Caulfield and its forbidding surroundings, you will certainly not wish to leave." Crimesquad.com Crimesquad.com . a highly-assured debut..Stef Penney has written an absorbing and stylish mystery. The Glasgow Herald Glasgow Herald ".Stef Penney's hefty first novel The Tenderness of Wolves, mines her setting and period for all it's got and then some, injecting plenty of invented intrigue and Da Vinci Code like revelations of Huge Cultural Importance whenever she can. The result is an entertaining, well-constructed mystery that jazzes up the "real" history in a way that's more Ron Howard than Pierre Berton. It's.sexy, suspenseful, densely plotted storytelling.The Tenderness of Wolves remains a first-rate gripper with a notably sensual as well as psychological understanding of its main characters. More than this, it is a novel with far greater ambitions than your average thriller, combining as it does the themes of Conrad's Heart of Darkness with Atwood's Survival, and lashing them to a story that morphs Ian Rankin." Andrew Pyper, The Globe and Mail Globe and Mail unquestionably atmospheric, evocative and eventually rewarding - Independent On Sunday Independent On Sunday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
A search for Jammet's murderer is soon organised. The searchers include Mrs Ross and Donald Moody, representing the Hudson Bay Company. Others join the search as well, and the community is reminded of an earlier search for two young sisters who disappeared some years earlier.
Solving Jammet's murder is not the only truth being sought, and there are a number of other mysteries to be explored and motives to be understood. The wintry landscape both hides and preserves the pasts of some characters, as well as some of the evidence.
`Doesn't it always matter, finding the truth?'
It's a challenge at times to follow the various narrative strands, but it becomes easier as the story progresses. There are a number of sub-plots which add different dimensions to what otherwise might be a straightforward murder investigation. The weather, the past and the country each play a part in the story.
I enjoyed this novel and while I fleetingly wished that all loose ends had been tied off at the end, I realised that would not have worked. Not for this novel.
`The sound is inescapable; quiet but insistent, like conscience.'
The perspective is interesting in that the story is told from various points of view, but only one of the characters (Mrs Ross) uses the first person. The tone is foreboding and haunting, continually giving the impression that something major is about to happen.
I agree with the other reviewer that the ending seemed rushed and left some loose ends. But I also appreciated that Stef Penney avoided the Hollywood ending in which every character ends up finding their love and living happily ever after. This seemed more realistic, even if I was left wanting more and feeling deflated that the story was over.
One minor complaint is that the photo on the cover looks like British Columbia, not northern Ontario.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In a good book there must be: good character development, some likable characters, a great plot with unexpected twists and turns, and a message.
I could feel how the author loved her characters and one could understand the choices they made. It read like a screen play and was very visual with scenes of the wilderness of the 1800's in northern Canada. Great Book!!!
PS. Everyone in the book club enjoyed the book.