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72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2007
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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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2007
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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2008
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2009
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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book starts out as a mystery, then becomes a coming of age story, and finally a romance - none of which are ever truly resolved. The author successfully creates the harsh environment of the Canadian winter and develops interesting characters, but the plot fall flat and leaves these characters with nowhere to go. The mystery is not really a mystery, the romance is not really a romance, and leaves the reader with far to many questions that one wonders why the author bothered to create so many plotlines that she didn't want to explore futher. A decent try for a first novel, but I felt this was much closer to a character study for a screenplay than a novel to be read.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Evocative and atmospheric, I agree with other reviewers there, but also found Wolves disconnected (too many stories) and slow at times. Yes this reflects the landscape they lived in and the character's lives, but I really like to get in touch with the people I'm reading about so I care about them or their story. I got lost in the wildnerness here. It's an obviously intelligently-written book and some of the paths it took were entriguing, but others seemed meaningless when I turned the last page. 3.5 stars.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2008
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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
Tenderness of Wolves was eloquently written - that being said, it was also dreary and painful, which I could have found appreciation for if the ending wasn't so lackluster and flaccid. Tremendous build-up with no pay-off. I read this because of a reccommendation by Stephen King in an article he wrote. The story leads you into a state of emotional rip-off.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2008
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. Or Francis and his secret torment over a love that dares not speak its name, or the insecure Donald Moody who like a deer forever caught in the headlights is unwittingly drawn to Maria after his initial infatuation with Suzanne, etc. Themes of racism, identity, loss and love are expertly and seamlessly interwoven to form a rich tapestry that makes reading TOW an undeniably rewarding experience.

TOW minus the clutter - frankly the subplot concerning the Norwegian community is an unnecessary distraction - would have released much needed space for better character development and a tighter plot. This aside, I enjoyed the book immensely and would recommend it unreservedly to anyone who fancies reading a thinking man's crime novel. Well deserved Costa Award winner of 2006.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine kept yelling "Just die!!" during the English Patient? If you do, then you'll have a good idea what my reaction was to The Tenderness of Wolves.

With a murder and a disappearance in the first 50 pages, the book starts out promising. However, after those 50 pages, the book degenerates into several story lines, each tenuously linked to one another. Stef Penny then spends the next 321 pages slowly discoursing on each of those storylines. Some, she resolves within the greater context of the story: others, she doesn't. But, each of these plot threads is teased out in an excruciating manner. By the time I got to page 200, I was screaming "Just solve the mystery!!"

If you like lots of atmosphere, glacial pacing, and pretensions of grandeur in your murder/mysteries, then The Tenderness of Wolves is for you. For most of us, other murder/mysteries will more than adequately replace The Tenderness of Wolves.
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