Monday, September 01, 2008

Review: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

Penney, Stef. The Tenderness of Wolves. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.

This is a well-written novel that opens with the discovery of Laurent Jammet's body and the disappearance of Francis Ross. As parties leave the trading post of Dove River for parts north, each member has his/her own agenda. This tale is told through the perspective of many narrators although the word "I" is generally associated only with Mrs. Ross, the mother of Francis. Coming of age issues such as sexuality are explored, not always with the culturally acceptable outcome. Other social issues such as alcoholism, infidelity, and domestic violence also make an appearance in this historical mystery set in the 1860s in northern Ontario. There is a lot of time for reflection during the course of the novel. The competitive nature of the fur trade business is shown by the way that one company tried to silence the competition, particularly when those who began the rival business were seen as "traitors." While the main mystery was resolved satsifactorily, I still had a lot of unanswered questions at the close of the novel. I don't know if the author will explore some of these questions in future sequels or not, but I would not mind revisiting Dove River and places north in the future.

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