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The Last Crossingby Guy Vanderhaeghe
"To Americans, a bestseller in Canada is like a tree falling in the forest. Unless it's written by Margaret Atwood, they don't hear it and it doesn't exist....This baffling literary disconnect between the world's two most connected nations is about to be tested again. If there's any literary justice, any thirst for adventure, any love for a great Western, then The Last Crossing won't just cross the Canadian border, but shatter it." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)
Synopses & Reviews
A #l best-seller in Canada and winner of the Canadian Booksellers Association's Fiction Book of the Year Award, The Last Crossing is a sweeping tale of breathtaking quests, adventurous detours, and hard-won redemption. Master storyteller Guy Vanderhaeghe — hailed by Richard Ford as "simply a wonderful writer" — takes us on an exhilarating journey from the ivy-covered towers of Oxford in Victorian England to the dusty whiskey trading posts of the nineteenth-century American and Canadian West.
Englishmen Charles and Addington Gaunt are ordered by their tyrannical industrialist father to find their brother Simon, who has gone missing in the wilds of the American West. Charles, a disillusioned artist, and Addington, a disgraced military captain, set off to Fort Benton in America and enlist the services of a guide to lead them north, where Simon was last seen. The brothers hire the enigmatic Jerry Potts, half Blackfoot, half Scot, who suffers from his own painful past. At Addington's command, the party grows to include Caleb Ayto, a sycophantic American journalist, who is to record the journey for posterity; Lucy Stoveall, a fiery and beautiful woman who is bent on finding the men who viciously killed her sister; Custis Straw, a Civil War veteran in love with Lucy; and saloon keeper Aloysius Dooley. This unlikely posse, now encumbered with both psychological baggage and wagon trains, becomes entangled in an unfolding drama that forces each to come to terms with his or her own demons.
Told from alternating points of view and in vivid flashbacks, The Last Crossing conveys the varied lives of its search party in haunting scenes — a bear hunt at dawn, the discovery of an Indian village decimatedby smallpox, a sharpshooter's devastating annihilation of his prey, a soldier's guilt-ridden memory of his own survival, and an atypical love story. The Last Crossing is a novel of ruggedness and salvation, an epic masterpiece set in a time when worlds collided, were destroyed, and were built anew.
"[Vanderhaeghe is] a Dickensian sensationalist. His flair for the lurid can be exquisite....Epic novels can be loose, baggy monsters, but this one is stuffed with enough goodies to keep us entertained for days." John Vernon, The New York Times Book Review
"In a panorama of late-nineteenth-century Montana and western Canada, Vanderhaeghe details the lawlessness of the early frontier towns and the desperate ferocity of the dying indigenous tribes....As the various searches for revenge or redemption get under way the writing achieves unforced grace and power." The New Yorker
"Vanderhaeghe is a prodigiously gifted writer who makes the West, its fierce weathers, rugged landscapes and contrary characters come to life in a way comparable to McMurtry at his best....No reader once embarked on this hugely involving adventure will be able to stop until it is done." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Sumptuously imagined and fashioned with a master craftsman's attentiveness and finesse....The search for a missing brother adds a mythic dimension to Vanderhaeghe's complex plot....Brilliant work." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Rarely are today?s hungry readers invited to such a feast of a book....There are few writers who can encapsulate a character in a single sentence, turn a phrase or manipulate a metaphor as brilliantly as Vanderhaeghe....One of North America's best writers." Annie Proulx, Toronto Globe and Mail
"Vanderhaeghe moves deftly between present and past, between exterior and interior landscapes, choosing unique and telling details. Especially excellent are the first person passages in which richly individual voices give the story the pulse of life." Keir Graff, Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
Guy Vanderhaeghe was born in Saskatchewan in 1951. He is the author of six books of fiction. His novel, The Englishman's Boy (1996), was a longtime national bestseller in Canada and won the Governor General's Award for Fiction, the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and for Best Book of the Year, and was shortlisted for The Giller Prize and the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Vanderhaeghe is a visiting professor of English at S.T.M. College in Saskatchewan, Canada.
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