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The Tenderness of Wolves
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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 2007 Reed Business Information.

About the Author

Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University she turned to film-making, studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. The Tenderness of Wolves is her first novel.

Reviews

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 2007 Reed Business Information.

"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

The publisher was excited about this British debut even before it was proclaimed the U.K. Costa Book of the Year (the former Whitbread Book Award), and the excitement was not misplaced. Daringly, the author sets her work in Canada's frigid northern territory in the 19th century. As winter closes in on tiny Dove River, Mrs. Ross stumbles into the cabin of mysterious neighbor Laurent Jammet and finds him murdered. Distressingly, her son Francis, something of an outsider himself, disappears at the same time. Francis is conveniently suspected of the deed, and the Company (which runs just about everything in this neck of the woods) sends Donald Moody to investigate. New to Canada, Donald struggles to find his way among the hardened settlers. Then another man, clearly native, is spotted in Jammet's cabin, arrested and beaten, and mysteriously released. In the ensuing mayhem, no one seems to have considered Mrs. Ross's devotion and resilience-she's gone to find her son. Plot summary cannot do justice to this complex and engrossing tale of human passion and folly, highlighted by the rigors of a wilderness being systematically despoiled. The characters are distinctive, their portraits startling and incisive, and the writing is fluid and beautifully detailed. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/07.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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