Customer Reviews


48 Reviews
5 star:
 (27)
4 star:
 (12)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch
The good news is that Canadian writer Guy Vanderhaeghe has published six other books besides this one. This is important because once you finishedhis new novel "The Last Crossing" you will be scouring libraries, bookstores, and the internet for more.
What a good writer! His 1996 novel "The Englishman's Boy" was also excellent, but his newest book reaches an even...
Published on February 2, 2004 by Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader

versus
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... following Sergio Leone
This is an excellent depiction of what we imagine life to be in the North American wilderness in the last part of the XIXth century, without the airbrush effects that plagues this sort of epic.
The author, building on previous successes (notably The Englishman's boy), wants us to stay with his book far too long. Some of the "stories within the story" may be...
Published on November 10, 2002 by Montcler


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch, February 2, 2004
The good news is that Canadian writer Guy Vanderhaeghe has published six other books besides this one. This is important because once you finishedhis new novel "The Last Crossing" you will be scouring libraries, bookstores, and the internet for more.
What a good writer! His 1996 novel "The Englishman's Boy" was also excellent, but his newest book reaches an even higher level. His use of multiple points of view is marvelous and the characters have a depth and appeal that adds excitement, pathos, and surprise to a really good plot.
In the 1870's, a young Englishman named Simon Gaunt travels into Montana as a missionary and vanishes. His difficult, heartbroken father orders his two other sons to go to Ft. Benton and find him at all costs. Addington is a disgraced military man and Simon's twin Charles is a painter disappointed in himself for his own shallow nature. Charles is desperate to find Simon but Addington seems to look on the whole trip as one big outdoor adventure, showing up at the fort with a seedy, sycophantic "newspaperman" who plans to record Addington's feats in the wilderness for the penny press. They contract the Blackfoot/Scottish guide Jerry Potts to lead them, but by the time the Gaunts' wagons leave Ft. Benton, they have also collected a woman searching for her sister's killer and are trailed by the man who loves her, and who in turn is trailed by his best friend. The search for the missing missionary is in danger of being derailed by the quirks and passions of his search party. But Simon Gaunt remains the lodestar for this group, and only later do we find out why.
"The Last Crossing" is satisfying, readable, thoughtful, and thrilling. If you have not read Guy Vanderhaeghe before, he is a wonderful discovery.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lively melodrama of the Northwest frontier in the 1870s., February 29, 2004
In this broad saga of the New Territories, from Montana into Canada, Guy Vanderhaeghe brings to life the search of two Englishmen for their lost brother, Simon Gaunt, who has pursued a charismatic preacher in the hopes of converting the Indians to Christianity. No word has been heard from him in over a year. While twin brother Charles genuinely misses Simon, older brother Addington sees the search as a grand, selfish adventure-an excuse to hunt at his father's expense. The three brothers share the same blood and have had the same upbringing, but they have taken very different paths in life, and the sojourn in North America provides the stimulus which allows each one to discover his own inner nature. As Addington becomes more brutal and selfish, Charles becomes more sensitive and realistic. Gradually, an image of Simon emerges, through Charles's descriptions, as a "man dreaming so deeply as to be incapable of wakening to reality."
As the search party departs, every member is seeking some kind of love, acceptance, and a sense of connection to the wider world. Jerry Potts, the scout, is half Scots and half Blackfoot Indian and yearns for his small son from whom he is estranged. Lucy Stoveall is searching for the brutal killers of her 13-year-old sister Madge Dray. Custis Straw, who loves Lucy, suffers from nightmares about the Civil War and the loss of his family. Addington, who becomes deranged as time progresses, hunts and kills animals and Indians for the sheer bloodlust. Constant motifs of blood and bloodlines pervade the novel, as the trip challenges each member to understand who s/he is by birth and who s/he has become through the accidents of history.
The great Northwest, with the power and grandeur of its scenery, its wildlife, and its rapidly changing weather provides for innumerable dramatic scenes. The honorable and caring Lucy and the venal Addington are as much the personifications of good and evil as the heroines and villains in western melodrama. Ultimately, all the plot elements unite in a satisfying conclusion which extends twenty-five years beyond the search for Simon and ties up loose ends. Rousing and absorbing, this melodrama highlights the settlement of the frontier at the expense of Indian cultures, and one can almost hear echoes of a melancholy honkytonk piano in the background. Mary Whipple
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duty, honor, and love, sublimely rendered, January 10, 2004
This review is from: The Last Crossing (Paperback)
Once in awhile, a book comes along that haunts its readers' thoughts for years. The Last Crossing is such a book.
Set in the latter part of the 1800s, in the western U.S. and Canada, and in Victorian England, this is a tale of a a man lost in the wilderness, and those who seek to find him, including his very stiff British father, two very different brothers, a pair of star-crossed lovers, a quirky journalist, a saloon-keeper, and an Indian guide. They all suffer from painful pasts that taunt them into life-changing courses of action.
Telling the story from their own points of view, the characters look back at their own lives. This drives each of them to live up to their sense of duty, to defend their own honor, and ultimately to act in one way or another because they either love, or can't love.
Scenes of the early west tear at the heart--caravans, Indian villages, conflicts, battles, disease, death, tragedy, comic relief. And love, sometimes unrequited, and at a distance. There is one scene that will stay with me for years. In it, two lovers find each other, their desperate searches ending and beginning in an instant. The night air, the stars, the prairie wind and their hearts carry them to where they couldn't dream of going.
The characters speak with undeniable truth to and about themselves. They narrate, but also wonder about their own personal honor and how they can love despite their pasts and the hard lessons that duty and love teach them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Wests, one good story, February 16, 2004
For more than 100 years, authors have sent their heroes into the twin uncharted territories of the wild West and the untamed heart, but few have risen above horse opera or dime novel. Owen Wister's "The Virginian" and Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove" remain the gold standard for literature of the frontier West.
Uh, make that the American West. It's good to be reminded, as Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Last Crossing" does, that Canada also had a vast, unexplored western territory. And while rails were rapidly being laid across virgin earth and Custer was hurtling toward his last stand, no territorial border truly divided the American and Canadian wildernesses. Marauding Indians, greedy whites, hungry animals and a budding mythology simply didn't appreciate international boundaries.
Blending intense action with masterly characterization, Vanderhaeghe appeals on various levels. Whether his huge popularity in Canada will trickle south of the border remains to be seen, but this new novel is a sharp and eloquent import. The big question is: Can American readers embrace a sprawling adventure of higher literary value?
He has sometimes been dunned by critics for excruciatingly detailed prose, but such criticism is neither warranted in this case nor unexpected in modern commercial publishing, where action is more highly valued than character.
Vanderhaeghe disregards those boundaries. "The Last Crossing" is a far more satisfying story of a small band's westward journey than McMurtry's rambling, four-part Berrybender Narratives, which began in 2002 with "The Sin Killer" and will end later this year with "Folly and Glory."
While Vanderhaeghe doesn't rival McMurtry in his prime, - these characters are not nearly as engaging as "Lonesome Dove's" Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call, nor are their travails as gripping - he has contributed a new frontier novel that is braver and more eloquent than all but a handful in the Western oeuvre, Canadian or American.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... following Sergio Leone, November 10, 2002
This review is from: The Last Crossing (Hardcover)
This is an excellent depiction of what we imagine life to be in the North American wilderness in the last part of the XIXth century, without the airbrush effects that plagues this sort of epic.
The author, building on previous successes (notably The Englishman's boy), wants us to stay with his book far too long. Some of the "stories within the story" may be interesting but add nothing to the action nor to the understanding of the characters.
Some of the characters are not sufficiently developed for the reader to know them well: perhaps it would have been better to not try to insert them in the story.
But all in all it is a very good and fascinating book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The writing alone rates, March 8, 2004
By 
Michael Moore (Statesboro,, Georgia USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
a top score. The author writes a 19th century novel the way it might have been written 150 years ago. In terms of scope, I think this novel closely resembles A.B. Guthrie's, The Big Sky, more than anything else. It takes time to tackle these Post Modern pieces and it takes a while to care about anyone in here but gradually the reader begins to understand the relationships. A lot of stuff goes unsaid which I think speaks well for any writer. We know that Aloysius is a devoted friend to Custis and we figure it out without being clubbed with it. The relationship between Jerry Potts and Custis also figures in this vein. I would like to have read more of Potts' story. My only criticism and it is mild is that Charles narrates a bit too long.
If you want to read something ultimately satisfying in non traditional ways, this might be your ticket.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A boom town draws rogues like a jam jar draws wasps.", April 11, 2004
By 
Part historical drama, romance, and character study THE LAST CROSSING has a lot to offer - and rightly so. Hailed as a bestseller in Canada for two years and only recently published in the United States I've been waiting patiently to get my hands on a copy of this book and now I'm far from being disappointed. Guy Vanderhaeghe takes the reader on an adventure through the British Territory (Canada) filled with remarkable characters and wonderful prose. At the center of the novel are Charles and Addington Gaunt who are sent from England to North America in 1871 by their overbearing father to track down their missing brother Simon who has mysteriously disappeared.
After arriving Charles is distressed to learn that Addington is not as concerned about Simon; in fact, Addington has hired a writer to document his journey through the Frontier in an effort to later write a book. The Gaunt's caravan into the British Territory in search of Simon is without incident or danger. Vast and wild pastures filled with dueling Indian tribes and scrupulous whisky traders provide the grand backdrop to this impressive tale. To complement the depth and realization of the landscape Vanderhaughe does a great job of getting into the heads of his characters. I was deeply impressed with his depiction of Charles' torment and grief over his stressed relationship with Simon, and how he wishes he could mend the fences between them. Another successful aspect was how multiple narrators were utilized which enables the reader to gain a better-rounded perspective unlike the reliance of one narrator.
It's rare indeed that I become so enthralled while reading a book that I virtually sink into the prose and see the story unfolding in three-dimension around me, and that was exactly what happened each time I picked up this book. For this simple fact I wouldn't hesitate but recommend this book to others. It's been well worth the wait.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gaunts Put the 'Dis' in Dysfunctional, September 5, 2006
This review is from: The Last Crossing: A Novel (Paperback)
Young Englishman Simon Gaunt, religious zealot, has gone missing in the Old American West (specifically Canada). Dear old dad Henry, the overbearing so-and-so, sends older brother Addington and Simon's twin Charles in search. These folks put the `dis' in a dysfunctional family. Addington, a self-centered martinet, loves only himself and his pleasures and timid Charles, an aspiring artist, seems not to know what he wants. They hire Jerry Potts, a real-life Canadian frontiersman (Vanderhaeghe is Canadian) to help find Simon and meet up with a collection of society's castoffs and loose ends and form an odd posse.

To some readers, calling this book Western literature might be a put off or a putdown - I happen to love Western writing (A.B. Guthrie and Larry McMurtry to name two) - so let's just call it literature set in the Old West. Vanderhaeghe is a tremendously talented writer.

Highly recommended for fans of Western literature or just fine writing of any kind.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rousing epic of the Old West, September 22, 2004
By 
At the center of this epic, multi-voiced novel of the American and Canadian West is a lost Englishman and the motley crew that sets out across the prairie to find him. Acclaimed Canadian writer Vanderhaeghe uses this fairly ordinary plot device to tell a rousing, riveting tale of love, lawlessness and the vast cultural gaps that bind and divide.

Simon Gaunt is the missing young man. Favorite son of a self-made British industrialist, Simon disappeared during an 1870 mission to bring Christ to the Indians. The reader knows Simon got lost in a blizzard and was discovered - and maybe rescued - by an Indian "holy being." Simon's family knows only that the leader of the missionary expedition has been found dead, near Fort Benton, on the Montana frontier.

Henry Gaunt sends his two remaining sons, Addington, the militaristic one, and Charles, the artist, to America to find Simon. The cultural gulf between the Brits and their former colonials is instantaneous, wide and deep.

"Until Addington attempted to requisition this room for his own use, I was disgusted by the state of it, the very room which the proprietor boasts is the finest the Overland Hotel has to offer," reflects Charles, Simon's fraternal twin.

Haunted by memories of his gentle, otherworldly brother, Charles organizes the expedition, but waits impatiently on his older brother's leadership. Addington, loaded for bear (literally), has acquired a shady biographer in the tradition of all Western adventurers, and seems to look on the expedition as a rustic "Grand Tour," complete with a wagonload of claret and expensive brandy. Charles, chafing to leave, finds them a guide - Jerry Potts, a half-Indian, half-white woodsman, torn by his heart's allegiance to the two warring cultures he embodies.

But on the eve of their departure a young girl is murdered, and as an indirect consequence, the party grows by three. The girl's sister, Kate Stoveall, left in Fort Benton while her no-account husband sells whiskey to the Indians, joins the party as a cook, seeking the thugs who murdered her sister. Custis Shaw, Civil War veteran, loner and Bible-reading enigma, rides out after Kate, the woman he loves. And saloonkeeper Aloysius Dooley, loyal friend to Custis, goes along to keep an eye on his friend.

Vanderhaeghe ("The Englishman's Boy") moves seamlessly between viewpoints, going deep into his characters' psyches and memories, exploring their self-doubts, joys and demons, without, however, stinting on the action, of which there is plenty, both past and present.

Often the challenging terrain often seems adventure enough: "Powdery clay steams into the air, cloaks men and beasts in a choking, sallow cloud. Everyone is too dry-mouthed to speak, the only sounds accompanying the advance are the faint music of jangling trace chains, the plangent protest of axles, the dull plod of hooves."

And the ill-sorted companions begin to grate even more on each other. "Seeing Addington Gaunt prink and preen is a most grievous pain in the fundament," thinks Custis, who also notes: "The baleful gaze Potts is turning on the Captain makes me a tad uneasy." Custis has more serious matters on his mind, though. Kate and Charles Gaunt, an unsuitable pairing if ever there was one, are spending a lot of time sneaking off together. But Kate rejects his warnings and Charles is too much the gentleman to even acknowledge them.

Vanderhaeghe's West is much like the best of Larry McMurtry's - full of deep souls and vicious creeps, cruelty and kindness, paradox and contradiction and miles of beautiful, dangerous country. His prose is rich and vivid in every voice, from Custis' earthy vernacular to Jerry Potts' barely articulate pain, to Charles' earnest and natural refinement. A big, rousing, involving story from a writer who ought to be better known than he is.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great novel about the real wild west, November 11, 2003
This review is from: The Last Crossing (Paperback)
Set in the late 1800's around the character Simon Gaunt an idealistic young gentleman from England who goes as a missionary to the New World to convert Indians. He disappears and when no word is heard from him back at home, his father sends Simon's two brothers, his twin Charles and the elder brother Addington to the New World on a mission to find Simon and bring him home. "The Last Crossing" is the story of their journey away from civilization and into the raw wilderness. Some unforgettable scenes for me were the dance at Fort Edmonton, the "ghost village" where everyone had died of smallpox, the story of the Blackfoot going south past Salt Lake on a raid for horses, and the grizzly hunt.
The story is usually told in the first person, but with continually changing and fascinating viewpoints as there are 6 different main narrators - the two brothers Charles and Addington, - Jerry Potts, the half Blackfoot/half Scottish hired guide, - Lucy Stoveall, a woman with her own motivations for accompanying the posse, - Custis Straw who is in pursuit of Lucy, and Aloysius, the saloon owner going after Custis for his own protection. The characters are richly developed and believable, all completely different, some more likable than others.
I read this book in a day and a half, reading whenever I got an opportunity, it was so hard to put down and the ending was great and uplifting, filled with possibilities. Guy Vanderhaeghe is one of those authors whose books get better and better, I first read "Homesick", a moving family story, then "The Englishman's Boy", an intriguing look at early Hollywood and the wild west and now this "The Last Crossing", not just a western but really suspenseful historical literature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Last Crossing: A Novel
The Last Crossing: A Novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe (Paperback - November 30, 2004)
$14.00 $9.33
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.