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The Outlander: A Novel (P.S.) Paperback – June 30, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (June 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061491349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061491344
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #609,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Set in 1903, Adamson's compelling debut tells the wintry tale of 19-year-old Mary Boulton ([w]idowed by her own hand) and her frantic odyssey across Idaho and Montana. The details of Boulton's sad past—an unhappy marriage, a dead child, crippling depression—slowly emerge as she reluctantly ventures into the mountains, struggling to put distance between herself and her two vicious brothers-in-law, who track her like prey in retaliation for her killing of their kin. Boulton's journey and ultimate liberation—made all the more captivating by the delirium that runs in the recesses of her mind—speaks to the resilience of the female spirit in the early part of the last century. Lean prose, full-bodied characterization, memorable settings and scenes of hardship all lift this book above the pack. Already established as a writer of poetry (Ashland) and short stories (Help Me, Jacques Cousteau), Adamson also shines as novelist. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Tracked by bloodhounds and pursued by brutal-looking redheaded twins, a gently reared young woman flees over the plains of western Canada and into the mountains. She hears voices and sees events that may or may not be happening, causing her and other characters in this stylistically complex novel to question her sanity. The widow (as she is called in the first eight chapters of the book) is rescued by strangers who allow her free passage on a ferry or give her sanctuary and one who starts her back toward reality and sanity. Adamson cleverly integrates techniques of the adventure-suspense novel with a refined, often poetic style. She maintains suspense while portraying the wilderness of Canada’s far west and providing fine portraits of the people who lived in and were shaped by it. The slow unfolding of story and character coupled with lyrical descriptions of the terrain, an occasional touch of bizarre humor, and a multitude of well-chosen historical details will appeal to readers of literary writing as well as historical- fiction fans. --Ellen Loughran --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Gil Adamson's talents as a poet translate well into long prose.
David Donelson
It keeps you intrigued with good character development and pursuit of the main story line.
sue d.
Then when I began reading the book, the widow got me until the very end of the book.
Old Man Ohio River

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By David Donelson on June 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Outlander is one of the most perfectly titled books I've ever read. Every character, every location, even every major event in the plot is somehow isolated from the real world. Gil Adamson's wonderful prose carries with it a sense of otherness, making this debut novel a fine read.

We don't learn the actual name of the protagonist, Mary Boulton, until over 100 pages into the book. Until then, and mostly thereafter, she is referred to as "the widow," which not only gives her a slightly off-center identity, but describes her situation as well. Mary wants to be anonymous, and with good reason: she killed her worthless husband and is pursued by his revenge-seeking twin brothers. The details of her past unfold slowly as Mary tries to disappear into the wilderness of Idaho and Montana, dragging along her memories of a loveless childhood, a brutally unhappy marriage, and a dead child of her own. Her fragile mental state teeters on a razor's edge between reality and hallucination throughout her journey and eventual liberation.

The other characters in the book are "outlanders" too. The evil twins--gawked at by the superstitious citizens of the time--are relentless in their pursuit, driven by their need to avenge their brother's death to gain the approval of their aloof and demanding father. The various people who help Mary along the way, Mrs. Cawthra-Elliot (a widow herself), the Crow Indian Henry (actually born in Baltimore) and his white wife Helen who helps her, the Reverend Bonnycastle and the dwarf saloon keeper who befriend her in an isolated mining camp, all are apart from society in some way. The most isolated of all is William Moreland, the Ridgerunner, who has been living in the mountains as a hermit for so long he doesn't know what year it is.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko VINE VOICE on April 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Outlander by Gil Adamson is one of those novels that somehow gets under you skin a little. You find yourself somehow colored by the story and catch yourself remembering an incident in the story during the day while your at work and not reading. Not all books come to mind at odd times during the day, but this one does.

Set in 1903, young Mary Boulton is living in an isolated cabin. After losing her baby, and suffering from depression she kills her husband when she learns of his infidelity. Pursued by her dead husband's brothers, Mary is faced daily with life and death situations. Not really being equipped with survival skills each day is a test, but she proves herself to be resilient and manages to evade her pursuers.

As she makes her way to an uncertain freedom through Idaho and Montana, she manages to run into quite a mixture of individuals; some pretty unsavory outcasts, but others that prove to be helpful. With the little help she receives from these unwitting characters Mary manages to survive....at least for a while. In spite of the fact that Mary is a murder it is difficult not to see her in a sympathetic light.

Gil Adamson is a wonderful novelist and reminds me of Andrea Barrett author of Ship Fever, Voyage of the Narwal, Servant of the Map and others. Though the author of Primitive, a book of poetry, and Help Me, Jacques Cousteau, a book of short stories Outlander is Gil Adamson's first novel.

Do novelists who are poets first make better storytellers than those who aren't? In addition to Adamson, I'm thinking of Ron Rash, author of One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River, and The World Made Straight. There is a gift for dialogue and a playfulness with the language that just seems special by these authors.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In 1903, a newly widowed young woman of 19 is escaping the consequences of both the murder of her husband and the events surrounding it. Her brothers-in-law are intent on catching her to make her face justice. This sets the scene for a brutal journey through the cold western wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. The widow (as she is generally referred to throughout the novel) carries with her the demons of her past and some of her recollections are not entirely reliable. The widow knows that there is no safe place for her within the confines of what passes for civilisation and so she flees across the Rocky Mountains.

There are a number of different themes in this novel and the setting itself is important. The environment is both beautiful and harsh. In order to survive, the widow needs to appreciate both and to adapt. Along her journey she meets some interesting characters, most of them outlanders in their own way, and learns how to survive. Can she find an enduring happiness?

At times the widow's mind is a confused and confusing space. It isn't always clear where reality begins and ends but this is integral to the story itself. This may not be an easy novel to read, but it is beautifully written and well worth the journey. I found myself reading slowly in order to appreciate the journey while simultaneously wanting to rush ahead to find out the ultimate destination.

This is Ms Adamson's first novel, and I'll certainly be looking to read more of her work.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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