(Guest post for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge)
Set in 1903 in and around the mining town of Frank, Alberta, Gil Adamson’s debut novel The Outlander is the story of a woman named Mary and her dramatic escape through the wilderness. Mary is a 19 year old widow fleeing from her twin brother-in-laws after murdering her own husband. Her young life is best described as deprived, moving from a neglected childhood to a loveless marriage spent in a remote and isolated shack. The book opens with Mary desperately running from the twins and their bloodhounds as her journey begins.
The Outlander is beautifully written creating a story that is full of suspense and emotion. Even descriptions of the most derelict scenes, such as a group of miners trudging along to work in the pre-dawn darkness, are lovely and poignant. Looking back at the storyline, Mary’s journey is actually relatively short. But the vivid portrayals of her battle to survive facing starvation, isolation and the elements are so compelling, I couldn’t wait to find out what happened from one chapter to the next. Mary, or the widow as she is referred to, manages to survive her journey through a combination of resilience, determination and at times, sheer good luck. I grew to really care for this character as she achieves an admirable measure of contentment by earning and valuing the respect and affection of those she encounters. The Outlander is a touching story of personal triumph combined with a great Canadian outdoor adventure.