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Sunday, May 18, 2008

No Country for Young Widows

The Outlander by Gil Adamson, 2008, Ecco, a division of HarperCollins, $25.95. (First Edition Club pick for May)

I have struggled coming up with a review of Gil Adamson's debut novel, The Outlander for over two months now, and this morning I read the latest edition of BookPage, and lucky me, my new favorite book reviewer, Kristy Kiernan, has a fantastic let me give her the honors...

No country for young widows


In 1903, the wilds of Montana and Alberta, Canada, and the frozen peaks of the Rockies challenged the most adventurous and experienced explorers. Only someone desperate, perhaps even mad, would dare consider them a viable escape route, but then Mary Boulton, most often referred to in Gil Adamson's suspenseful debut, The Outlander, as "the widow," is surely both.

After the death of her infant, Mary slowly begins to work her way out of a crippling depression, only to be confronted with evidence of her husband's infidelity. Alone in a desolate and friendless landscape, Mary loses her last shred of sanity and kills him, living with his body while sewing her mourning gown. Her reckless act is discovered soon enough, sending the widow fleeing across the harsh land with her twin brothers-in-law, seeking revenge, hot on her trail.

Throughout her travels the widow suffers from frightening delusions, as well as the ever-present threats of starvation and frostbite, but she presses onward and upward, making her way through treacherous mountain passes, dodging wolves, deadly arrows and capture. A host of interesting characters cross her erratic path, providing shelter, company or simply an opportunity to steal provisions, and her encounters with a notorious mountain man known as the Ridgerunner are especially compelling.

As the widow's wilderness knowledge and competence improves, so does her mental condition, and by the time she arrives in Frank, a mining town in southwest Alberta, she's nearly got a grip on her sanity. But nothing will stop her husband's brothers, and soon after the famous Frank Slide, when 74 million tons of mountain crashed to the valley below, they manage to catch up to her.

Readers will feel as breathless as Mary as they follow her frantic dash across the snow-bound mountains. Combining the best escape-over-hazardous-terrain action from novels like Cold Mountain with moody, literary prose, The Outlander is an utterly gripping debut.

Kristy Kiernan writes from South Florida and determinedly avoids all snowy mountains.

We are so fortunate to have Ms. Adamson here for a signing and reading tomorrow, Monday, May 19th starting at 5 pm. She writes, in my opinion, like Jim Harrison and Cormac McCarthy, which is not my favorite style, but I did enjoy Mary's story. Ms. Adamson has written poetry and short stories, and after this debut novel, I am sure she will be on the fast track to becoming a favorite literary author. Treat yourself to this exciting new author by buying a copy (or two) of The Outlander today!

Also, Kristy Kiernan's first book Catching Genius is on our shelves, and her new book is due out this August. If you like her review from above, google Kristy Kiernan and find her other reviews and her own literary prose!