Journey from Victorian England to the whiskey trading posts of the Old West in this epic award-winning bestseller from the author of The Englishman’s Boy.
In the late nineteenth century, Englishmen Charles and Addington Gaunt are sent by their father to find their brother Simon, a missionary who has gone missing in the wilds of the American West. In the outreaches of the Montana frontier, the brothers hire a guide—a half Blackfoot, half Scot named Jerry Potts—to lead them further north into the area where Simon was last seen. As the party heads out, it grows to include a journalist, a saloonkeeper, a Civil War veteran in search of love, and a young woman bent on revenge.
There’s no telling what awaits them . . .
“One of North America’s best writers . . . A feast of a book.” —Annie Proulx, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Stuffed with enough goodies to keep us entertained for days.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Quest and revenge, love and loss converge before the novel’s satisfying final twist.” —The Boston Globe
“The quality of its plotting, vivid characterizations and descriptions and dark humor place it firmly in the company of the likes of Larry McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
This sweeping epic novel of the search for a lost Englishman in the raw Indian territories of the U.S.-Canadian Western borderlands in the late 19th century was a Canadian bestseller and award-winner last year, but has only just made it here. That's puzzling, for Vanderhaeghe (The Englishman's Boy) 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. He tells of the disappearance on the prairie of a wealthy and idealistic young Englishman, Simon Gaunt, in the company of a devious missionary who is later found dead. Simon's tyrannical father sends brothers Charles and Addington to see if they can find out what happened to him and if, by chance, he is still alive. The dreamy, artistic Charles and the preening, choleric Addington get together with a Scots-Indian half-breed, Jerry Potts (a real person of the time), as their guide and set out into a wilderness inhabited only by warring Indian tribes and rogue traders selling them whiskey. They are accompanied by Lucy Stoveall, a tough beauty in search of the renegades who raped and murdered her young sister, and Custis Straw, a battered Civil War veteran desperately in love with her. Their adventures are pulse-poundingly exciting and graphic, and if the book has a fault it is that it is almost overstuffed with drama and incident. A pair of brilliant set pieces Straw's memories of a bloody Civil War battle, and a murderous encounter between warring Indian tribes are not really essential to the narrative, and the elegiac ending seems oddly off-key. But the book's rewards far transcend these excesses, and no reader once embarked on this hugely involving adventure will be able to stop until it is done. 8-city tour.