Tag Archives: sequel

Ridgerunner by Gil Adamson

Author Gil Adamson has returned to the literary scene with Ridgerunner, a sequel to her debut award-winning novel The Outlander. William Moreland, the character who captured the heart of Mary Boulton, says in The Outlander:

"There is a poster up on the wall about me. They call me the Ridgerunner, which is a good name, since they could as easily call me ‘that bastard.’ I am a pain in their necks and they can’t wait to get rid of me."

It seems Moreland’s old ways haven’t changed as Ridgerunner opens in 1917 in the southern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta. Mary is dead but her presence lingers. Unable to look after their young son Jack and earn money by legitimate means, Moreland leaves the boy in the care of a former nun so he can garner enough funds to support the child. Continuing his old patterns, he engages in thievery and is soon on the run. While waiting for a meal, he reflects:

"He was not a soldier come back from war, not a park ranger, not any sort of a good man. In fact, to his own astonishment, he had firm plans to become even worse."

The son Jack is a mix of bravery and the bravado of youth. He is also perceptive. His father had once told him that if he was afraid of doing something, that he was then obliged to do it.

"The kid had … immediately understood the trick of it. If you are not afraid, you’ll do it anyway, because why not. If you are afraid, you’re obligated to overcome your fear. So there was only one choice: do it."

The former nun is a terrifying portrait of twisted love and psychosis as she manipulates Moreland and then the son to achieve her goals.

The house had spent another night alight and heated, and its sole occupant was ablaze, too.

"When the water was ready she set his clothes on his breakfast chair and filled the washtub. Soap flakes came out of the box waxy and they clung to her hand, so she plunged her fist into the stinging water and swished them off, staring down into that milky liquid, the unseen hand shrieking until it went numb and the indignation in her chest abated a little. Pain helped."

This literary novel is set in the Canadian wild west but gives new life to the western genre. Its tension is more slow boil than explosive. The characters are rugged and warped, and some manage to be endearing. They have their own sense of honour and levels of self-awareness and understanding. Their suffering–and there’s lots of it–is so excruciatingly portrayed, it feels personal, but love in all its complexity is at the root of everything.

The one constant in the book is the harsh landscape of the southern Rockies which affects much of the plot:

"… a town may spring up and grow where none was before, a road maybe diverted, bridges rot and fall into the river. But a mountain will always look the same, and the canyon at its foot will not move; the land is as unchanging as the stars, and just as useful for navigation."

And change is coming. The story is set in the last days of World War I and the aftermath of the devastating Frank Slide. Railways and roadwork are breaching the wilderness and transforming the town of Banff; even the individualism of the characters is challenged.

I loved every word in this book, and it is back on my pile of books to reread. Ridgerunner is the winner of the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GIL ADAMSON is the critically acclaimed author of Ridgerunner, which won the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and was named a best book of the year by the Globe and Mail and the CBC. Her first novel, The Outlander, won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for Literary Excellence in Crime Writing, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the ReLit Award, and the Drummer General’s Award. It was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, CBC Canada Reads, and the Prix Femina in France; longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; and chosen as a Globe and Mail and Washington Post Top 100 Book. She is also the author of a collection of linked stories, Help Me, Jacques Cousteau, and two poetry collections, Primitive and Ashland. She lives in Toronto.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ House of Anansi Press; Reprint edition (May 12 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 456 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 148700656X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1487006563

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Patricia Sandberg
Some Rights Reserved  

My Father’s Son by Tom Moore

Felix Ryan, a middle-aged high school teacher from Curlew, Conception Bay is facing the biggest battle of his life.  While attempting to stare down a serious mid-life crisis that leaves him questioning his entire existence, Felix receives a phone call from his ex-girlfriend Tammy to return home.  A big American oil company led by a larger-than-life Texan named John Baron and his crackerjack lawyer had begun purchasing land from the local residents with a plan to begin extracting oil from the ground.  As the town becomes divided over the potential new wealth a fracking operation would bring, Felix’s ageing and eccentric father embarks upon yet another crusade to reveal the truth about big business, religion and life.  As the battle lines are drawn, Felix is also confronted with the realities of his existence and unknowingly embarks upon his own crusade to take back his life.  My Father’s Son is Tom Moore’s sequel to the award-winning novel The Sign On My Father’s House. It is a story about the triumphs and tribulations of life and fighting for what you believe in.  

I rose from the table like a man rising from the grave.  I left the walls, the dust, the echoes behind, and I moved into a new dimension.

From the outset of the novel, the reader quickly discovers that all is not well with the main character Felix.  Standing, both literally and figuratively, on a wet precipice atop Signal Hill on a wet day in St. John’s is not typically where one would be standing especially when wearing black leather shoes, however, this is where the main character finds himself just like the icebergs making their way south, on their “ journey from water to ice and back to water again”.  The reader will come to appreciate these types of symbolic references that help to solidify the deeper meaning of an otherwise easy and entertaining read.  Punctuated throughout the narrative along with setting and plot details that are iconic to St. John’s and outport life really makes this book appealing.  After all, what Newfoundland Townie wouldn’t know The Ship Inn, Soloman’s Lane, Rocket Bakery and the Health Science Centre?  As the narrative moves to the small town of Curlew,  Moore invites the reader to bear witness to the soap opera-like antics of a small community that has become too familiar with itself.  From affairs to secret pregnancies, abuse and even murder Felix is finally forced to confront the truths of his life and the reader takes guilty pleasure in becoming a part of it. 

A #ReadAtlantic book!

In Curlew the past met the present: the old saltbox homes from the war years stood beside the new split levels of the 1970s.  Some of the older ones were abandoned or kept as summer homes by nostalgic offspring.  They mostly housed mice these days, and annual touch-ups were as much as they could expect.  Many of these annual repairs got lost in the world of good intentions.  Roofs leaked and eaves sagged in various degrees of neglect.  Some, well back from the road, had fallen in on themselves, desolate, slipping back into the invisible past. 

Author Tom Moore also does a superb job at developing authentic characters that are true to form, in the novel My Father’s Son. The lovely Ellen Monteau (Felix’s true love) is sharply contrasted with Tammy, the cigarette smoking, gum-chewing woman that ends up capturing Felix’s heart.  And of course, this story simply would not exist without Father, Walter Ryan, always at the ready to fight a cause.  Everyone knows “a Walter” but it is his crusade and dynamic personality that drives this story, helping the reader to realize the importance of standing up for what is right and eventually showing Felix how to be the son he was destined to become.

“Then what is the answer for Curlew?  And for Newfoundland?”

“Paternalism is no good. It leads to people like your last speaker, Reverend Stone, who says, ‘Turn over your lives to me and I’ll save you.’ John Baron has the same message. Give me your land and I’ll save you. It’s all the same scam.” 

“But Mr. Baron built a big hotel and a huge church here in the town.  Isn’t that a good thing?”

“No, it’s not. People can be bribed with those things for a time.  But the shallowness of materialism, and religion, and paternalism only stifles growth. The individual must grow, but can’t grow under the yoke of an oil baron, a fishing merchant, or a minister.”  

My Father’s Son by Tom Moore is a well-written and enjoyable read.  It is entertaining and often thought-provoking. Though not required, a read of Moore’s first novel The Sign On My Father’s House will give the reader an excellent introduction to this great story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Moore is an award-winning writer in St. John’s, Newfoundland. His first novel, Good-Bye Momma, became a Canadian bestseller and won a “Children’s Choice” award from the Children’s Book Centre in Toronto. It was translated into Danish in 1982 and into Romanian in 1979. The CBC produced a radio play version, and The Canadian Book of Lists named it one of the best children’s books in Canada.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Flanker Press Ltd. (May 26 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 230 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1774570327
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1774570326

*The Miramichi Reader encourages you to shop & support independent bookstores! However, shopping at a bookstore is not always possible, so we are supplying an Amazon.ca link. Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version, if available) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/3ABjilb

This article has been Digiproved © 2021 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Stephanie Collins
Some Rights Reserved  

The Widow’s Fire by Paul Butler

The following guest review is by Naomi MacKinnon of the Consumed by Ink blog. She focuses on reading books from Atlantic Canada, but will also read books from other places as well. So you think Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth live happily ever after? Well, Paul Butler wasn’t so sure. He saw a side of Mrs. Smith that the rest of us missed. Is she really the caring, innocent widow that Anne adores, or is she just manipulating us all into thinking she is? I was curious to see what Butler had done with such a beloved classic. Plus it gave me an excuse to re-read Persuasion after almost 20 years!

One thing Butler did not do was change any of what Jane Austen wrote in Persuasion. What he did do was imagine a longer, darker ending to the novel. His story starts as Anne and Frederick become engaged, and from there he brings in characters from the lower classes; those who are all but invisible in Jane Austen’s books. A sinister plot emerges – secrets, blackmail, lies, and murder – and we fear for the happy union of our couple.

Though we will journey into capital crimes and sins of the deepest disgrace known to humankind, love, in all its variations, will remain in our sights. The neatly patterned shell of romance might overturn to reveal the dark underbelly of blackmail and desire, but still love remains. Without love we are no longer living and our story is at an end.

The story is told through the narration of four characters; Mrs. Smith, Nurse Rooke, Captain Wentworth, and Plato (a freed slave who is not seen in Austen’s Persuasion, but was very likely there nonetheless; and who better to see all that goes on than someone who goes unnoticed?).

Each of them dragged around a dungeon of their own choosing. They said that slavery was going out of fashion but it only applied to the kind of slavery recognized by law, the kind that could lead to beatings and manacles. Slavery of the mind and soul was alive and well and would remain so in this country for many years to come.

Did Naomi enjoy The Widow’s Fire? You can read the rest of her review here at Consumed by Ink.