Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

It was my turn to lead the discussion at our monthly book club, Books and Brews, and I was given The Outlander by Gil Adamson.  Apparently I didn't fall on my face during the discussion so I take that as a win.

The Outlander has won many awards including in Canada First Novel Award 2008, ReLit Award for Fiction, Drummer General's Award and Dashiell Hammett Award.  

Gil (Gillian) Adamson was born 1 Jan 1961 in North York.  She studied philosophy and anthropology at the University of Toronto.  She is the author of two poetry collections, Primitive and Ashland, as well as writing short stories for magazines, journals and collections.

Adamson's original idea was a young woman, dressed in black, running like hell.  She wrote poems on this theme but was never satisfied.  After 10 years, the novel emerged.

I really enjoyed this book for two very simple reasons.  First, it is Canadian, and I find so many Canadian writers are more artistic when it comes to writing.  They seem to spend more time discovering just the right word or description to convey meaning.  Canadian writers are generally brave and new and lyrical.  Second, the characters were so enjoyable and eccentric and easy to connect to.

The main character is Mary Boulton who, at age 19, was "newly widowed by her own hand."  Mary killed her brutish, cruel, and philandering husband, John, after her newborn baby dies.  Despite her pain and probable mental illness as a result of her upbringing and marriage, Mary is never seen as a damsel in distress.  She is a strong character, cunning, resourceful, adaptive and resilient.  These are skills she needs as she runs from her husband's twin brothers, bent on bringing her to justice, frontier justice.

Another interesting character is William Moreland who is known as the Ridgerunner.  The Ridgerunner is a rough mountain man who does not fit into society and has had run ins with the law.  He falls in love with Mary but finds even she is too much civilization for him.

There are many more interesting characters that will pique your interest and draw you in.  Reverend Bonnycastle, whose sermons are more boxing match than religious service and McEchern the dwarf who owns a small business in the mining town who makes most of his money from moonshine and stolen horses are two of my favourites.

Seriously, read this book. 

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