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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire



It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »

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Andrea Scharf has commented on (1) product.

A Sudden Country: A Novel by Karen Fisher
A Sudden Country: A Novel

Andrea Scharf, June 21, 2009

This is the kind of book that you hate to finish. You find excuses to stop reading, even though you can't bear not to know what happens next. But if you read too fast, you will come to the last page way too soon. I wasn't ready to leave the luminous writing, the intensely complex characters, the vast landscape of country between Iowa and the Oregon Territory, and the deep issues that wind subtly beneath the story like the currents of the Snake River. Even though there is an intense attraction between the two main characters, this is far from a romance. Lucy Mitchell, a reluctant emigrant traveling with her husband and children along the Oregon Trail, is powerfully drawn to James MacLaren, a former Hudson's Bay trapper who joins the wagon train almost by accident and is drawn to Lucy Mitchell in a similar sideways manner. They are changing in an era of change. The West is changing, but there is no easy symbolism here. After I finally turned the last page, reading all the way to the description of type face (I was desperate not to be cast out again into my ordinary world!), the book continued to resonate, to suggest the different routes each individual takes toward understanding and redemption. This is one of the best books I've read in a long. It put me in mind of Molly Gloss's The Jump-Off Creek, and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, though it is totally its own creation, its own voice, its own story. I hope lots of people buy this book!!
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