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The Tenderness of Wolves: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, March 4, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 140 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. 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 © 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 Bookmarks Magazine

Long-listed for the Orange Prize and winner of the Costa Award (formerly Britain's Whitbread Award), Tenderness of Wolves, Stef Penney's first novel, has garnered acclaim in Europe and the United States. A screenwriter, Penney casts the harsh Canadian landscape in vivid, cinematic hues while portraying a small society born of isolation, corporate greed, and an unforgiving environment. Although a murder mystery with many plot twists, the novel most successfully reveals complex human desires, motivations, and relationships. Some critics faulted Penney's "noble savage" stereotypes, clichŽd dialogue, and unremarkable ending. However, as the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes, "Sometimes the journey is just more interesting than the destination."

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 4, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1416571302
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416571308
  • ASIN: B001K3IHUQ
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,620,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After earning a degree in philosophy and theology from Bristol University, she turned to filmmaking, studying film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme. She is a screenwriter. The Tenderness of Wolves is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book once I got into it, it was a challenge to figure out what was going on. The story itself is really interesting and the setting is fabulously well-drawn, but there are so many names to remember that it is kind of tough going, at times. The first 50 pages or so are completely hard to follow, but stick with it and it will begin to gel later on. Each chapter is told from a different character's point of view, and while interesting, it makes for a lot of head scratching. The names of many of the characters are similar, and we often go through 100 pages or more before a character is mentioned again. I would recommend this to the more sophisticated reader. This is not a book to be casually leafed through while sitting on the beach at Waikiki. One other thing, I can't imagine why the publishers decided to make this book a "summer release". The setting is so dark, cold, and snowy that it's difficult to even imagine what these people are feeling as we are suffocating of heat here in the Pacific Northwest in August. Overall, after a slow start, this book got under my skin and is now one of my all-time favorites. But it's not for everyone.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel ws very entertaining and kept me reading. I agree that after finishing I wondered why some of the many plots were relevant, because they didn't seem to come to a conclusion. It's an unsual story with many twists and likable characters. I was very engrossed in the characters' stories and would have liked to find out what happened to them. The ending just gave me hints ... instead I got the resolution of the murder mystery which wasn't that original. In any case, I don't mean to make it sound as if I didn't like it. I did, in fact I couldn't put the book down, it's a very likable story. If you're looking for a good and easy read I recommend this book. If you're primarily looking for a gripping murder mystery then better go and look for something else.
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Format: Paperback
The power, simplicity, beauty, and exquisitely hypnotizing imagery of this book makes me want to cry as I finally, reluctantly lay the finished book down. I've hated for it to end, and have read the last chapter very slowly, thinking it will have to be quite an extraordinary book to capture me as this one has. This wonderful multi-layered story (and each new layer is as compelling as the last) is set in 1860's Canada just below the Hudson Bay. A trapper has been murdered in the tiny settlement, and we are taken on an exciting unpredictable journey searching for the killer. The environment is brutally harsh, yet we feel the beauty and lure of the country as well; each fascinating character brought to life vividly and unforgettably; I feel as though I've been in their presence..I can feel and touch and smell each one...can look into their eyes, feel their breath, the beauty and the evilness. Oh! What an experience! The same lady that recommended this book, via a blog regarding "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" recommended "Out Stealing Horses". I'm hopeful, and will get back to you on that one. I wish I knew how to contact this person and get more of her recommendations!
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Format: Hardcover
I will admit that when I began the book it takes a bit of time to get all the characters straight in your head. Once I was familiar with the characters though, and starting getting into the book (which didn't take very long) I couldn't put it down. I live in a Northern region, so I feel the author has done a commendable job capturing the atmosphere of Canada in the wintertime. The characters are multi-dimensional, and there is a bit of suspense/mystery to the storyline as well. I'm not a mystery reader, and I wouldn't necessarily classify the book as such. It's hard to classify this book under one genre, but I think that's a good thing.
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Format: Paperback
In my neighborhood book club, once a year, it is my turn to pick a book. Deciding is angst filled, but this year, I picked The Tenderness of Wolves.
In a good book there must be: good character development, some likable characters, a great plot with unexpected twists and turns, and a message.
I could feel how the author loved her characters and one could understand the choices they made. It read like a screen play and was very visual with scenes of the wilderness of the 1800's in northern Canada. Great Book!!!
PS. Everyone in the book club enjoyed the book.
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Format: Paperback
Stef Penney's debut novel "Tenderness of Wolves (TOW)" combines essential crime thriller elements with literary sensitivities to deliver a beautifully nuanced, character centred page turner straddling both genres that will no doubt appeal to readers from both ends of the market. Set in 19th century Canada against snowbound landscape, a determined mother sets out in search of her adoptive son who mysteriously disappears after a fur trader is found murdered with his throat cut and consequently becomes the town's chief suspect. Herself abandoned to an asylum at a young age and presently trapped in a loveless marriage, Mrs Ross needs to clear young Francis' name for his and her own sake.

Among those helping or hindering her cause or simply interested in the case for their own reasons are the town's retired judge and community elder Andrew Knox and his two daughters (one dark, plain, deep and intelligent, the other fair, pretty, coquettish and a shallow flirt), a representative from the Hudson Trading Company, a mysterious out of towner bent on coveting an archaelogical find once in possession of the murder victim. There are many others. Penney begins with solid material - the central storyline is never less than compelling but sadly loses some of its momentum when mired by different strands from having too many subplots radiating from the center.

Her characterization is complex but underdeveloped, the result of overambition - Penney finds herself juggling too many balls. A pity, as she's got characters we want to know better, like the emotionally dormant Mrs Ross who is fascinating for being never less than a breath away from being ignited by the half-caste Parker.
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