This novel is loosely based on the author's ancestor who left England under a scandalous cloud for the Canadian prairies in the early 1900s. I was originally drawn to the book because Harry settles in Winter, Saskatchewan which is an area I know well between the Battlefords and Lloydminster. As the author draws you into Harry's struggles, you learn about Harry's background, the dark underground of Edwardian England, and pioneer life in the Canadian West. The long winters are just much an enemy as the clashes between ethnic groups, the native Crees, and the railroad builders. Gale's lyrical prose uses every word to draw a picture very different from the pioneer west of movies and tv.
I liked the way in which different settings and time-periods are interspersed in this story of a man's long struggle to find strength and happiness.
This is the third Patrick Gale novel I have read. As always his characters are well developed, including human failings and the storyline is complex. It is a beautifully written sorrowful tale. There is a lot of detail of life in late 19th century England and of life for homesteaders in the Canadian Prairies. Since I have read only 3 of his books, I am not sure if Mr. Gale ever writes uplifting stories. None of the books I have read have been happy stories. That's fine with me, I like this type of story.
Great read and evokes the nauces in the social mellieu of the British class system at the end of the 19th century. The struggles and trials of early pioneering on the prairies of Canada are well researched and evocative. It's Harry Cane's story, as a character so easy to empathize with and feel for in the shame and deprivations that are imposed upon him through the judgmental and prejudicial attitudes of his time.
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