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The Tenderness of Wolves: A Novel Hardcover – July 10, 2007
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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.
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, clichd 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Follow , all interesting but the back and forth between characters became a little difficult to follow although I was definitely hooked on
The main characters and the drama. Would recommend it.
Stef Penney creates a frozen rural setting in which the characters struggle to unfreeze even their feelings. Set in the cold north of the 1860s, "The Tenderness of Wolves" is a slow-paced thriller dealing with a murder in the time way before CSI, or even formal police departments. A number of parties are interested in tracking down the killer of a reclusive trapper, and all of them have ulterior motives. The story started out a little slowly at first, and I almost put it down, until I remembered that my own story, "Neitherworld" starts out slowly as well, and like Wolves, then heats up. An interesting twist to the narrative form is the way Penney tells the story in first person in some chapters and then, when the main character could not know certain things because she is not present, switches to third person. Be prepared to develop sympathy for the characters only over time. This is NOT a lapel-grabber - it is a thoughtful journey with sorrow, deep tragedies, and redemptions. It is, in other words, in the old tradition of great literature.
Another reader compared this to a screenplay, and while that is not entirely justified, I understand the analogy: the narrative stays very much at the surface and thus, while intellectually engaging, fails to become fully satisfying. That this won one of Britain's most prestigious literary awards seems inexplicable, as this novel is not particularly memorable.