A large, stately, and intensely powerful tale of loss, grief, and resilience…
Set against the backdrop of Canadian frontier, Gutteridge’s intimate, deeply evocative novel displays his formidable gift for illuminating humanity’s fascinating ability to strive in the face of difficult circumstances as he traces one woman’s epic journey from living in the desolate woods of Moore Township to witnessing the history unfolds before her eyes. Born in the 1840s in the backwoods of Lambton County, Ontario, Lily Corcoran, the daughter of Irish Immigrants, spends her days tending to her ailing mother and helping her father around the farm. As the settlers chop trees and displace the First Nation people to build their ranches and towns and the latter struggle to come to terms with the White men’s invasion in their quiet life, Lily witnesses the unraveling of her own life when an escaped slave fleeing to Canada ends up on their farm. Circumstances forces Lily’s father to move them from Lambton County. Lily ends up living with her fiercely independent Aunt Bridie and her uncle near Port Sarnia. A tragedy marks Lily’s entry into adulthood, but determined to thrive, Lily sets on an extraordinary journey into adulthood. One of the things that makes Gutteridge’s work so distinctively satisfying is the way he builds up detail — the barely civilized landscape of Lambton County of 1840s Ontario adorned only by scarce homesteads and farms and surrounded by dense woods comes to life. The reader will feel the long spells of snow and cold and the cozy warmness of wood fireplaces burning between the pages. Lily’s interactions with Old Samuels, the blind Indian who could see every bush and beetle in the territory despite his blindness, the latter’s mediations on life and the ways of the White Men bring out the Attawandarons alive in readers’ minds. Gutteridge uses his knack for creating evocative prose and lovely, scene-setting detail to liven up dry historical detail into the narrative: he seamlessly blends historical occurrences into the deeply affecting narrative — the descriptions of the building of railroads, the discovery of oil, the coming of war, the Spanish Flu of 1918 are imbued skillfully into the story. Guteridge’s writing is nuanced, and his larger-than-life characters shimmer: Lily, who leads the cast, charms with her wit and resilience. Part history and part fable, the novel makes for a riveting read. The lovers of both finely constructed literary fiction and historicals won’t want to miss this one.
By Don Gutteridge
Tablo Pty Ltd
Pub date July 19, 2019
Price $19.99 (USD) Paperback, $1.09 Kindle edition