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The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

The Tenderness of Wolves (2006)

by Stef Penney

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English (120)  Spanish (4)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All (126)
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
Last book I read in its entirety about 3 months ago. Loved it. Can't wait for her/him to write another. Fantastic villain's and hero's. Great story. ( )
  Alphawoman | Jul 3, 2018 |
This novel seemed to take me an age to read despite it being an average sized book. Winner of the 2006 Costa book of the year award, Stef Penney's debut novel is as average as the number of it's pages. The novel follows several different story-lines which, although all reach their linked conclusions by the end of the book, do so quite dubiously. Penney is by all means a gifted writer, her prose is clever and the description of the Canadian forests are believable and beautiful, yet the complicated and mostly unnecessary number of interlocking plots mask this book's real potential.

The fact that this novel features under the genre 'Historical Mystery' does by no means limit it to this, the book also features a love story and a murder. In fact, the entire mystery is greatly overshadowed by the other twists and turns of the novel. This lack of focus, I feel, adds to the lack of focus I felt when reading it, unlike most books finished within the week, this took me considerably longer. I was engaged initially by the potential of the storyline but was unfortunately disappointed by the outcome, at no point did I find the story thrilling or find myself really wondering who indeed was the perpetrator to the crime.

Despite all this, I will return to the fact that the novel was well-written and whether there should have been so many plots and changing character point of view chapters, it was nevertheless a cleverly written novel with an interesting and dramatically located story.

http://feelingslightlybookish.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/penney-book-review-eclectic... ( )
  Charlotte1162 | Nov 29, 2017 |
A good read - interesting details about the Hudson's Bay Company and the gradual decline of the fur trade, but not so much history that you felt overwhelmed by it. The story was gripping and not particularly predictable. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Aug 14, 2017 |
The tenderness of wolves

I love curling up with a good book, whatever the season.

You might find me on a sun lounger in summer or on a park bench in Autumn, but you'll never find me without a book in my hand and another in my bag. (You never know when you'll get Bonus Reading Time.)

In Winter I particularly enjoy snuggling up with books which have a properly cold setting. Recently this has included fantastic stories set in the Arctic Circle ('The One Memory of Flora Banks'), Antartica ('Devour'), Communist East Germany ('Stasi Child' - this cold may be more metaphorical!) and Canada - 'The Tenderness of Wolves'.

What's it about?

When a man is found brutally murdered and a seventeen year old boy goes missing, the boy's mother decides to find him in order to clear his name.

Their life in a frontiership town has always been tough, but the forest is a foreign and frightening place, and winter is closing in... Can Mrs Ross find her son before the Company hunters can? What exactly was his connection to the dead trapper? And can investigating this new mystery help resolve a decades old one?

Favourite quotes:

'She considers herself a well-traveled woman, and from each place she has been to, she has brought away a prejudice as a souvenir.'

'And so while my husband sleeps upstairs - we pack and I prepare to go into the wilderness with a suspected killer. What's worse, a man I haven't been properly introduced to.'

What's it like?

Slow paced. Lovely to read (the writing is beautiful). Deliciously evocative of life in the Canadian wilderness.

There's a panoramic quality to the writing which meant I wasn't surprised to learn that debut novelist Steph Penney had written and directed two films prior to writing this novel.

This is a mixture of genres - a dose of romance, a tale of life in the wilderness, a dash of mystery and more than a hint of Canadian Western. The resulting story does feel a little lacking in focus at times: a key plot device is finally reduced to little more than a macguffin, and whole characters have fully fleshed out storylines that are ultimately almost irrelevant to the main narrative thread (yes I mean you, Line, and you, entire population of Himmelvanger).

One of the many strengths of Penney's book is her evocation of place. The setting - especially the increasing coldness - is firmly felt throughout:

"The cold is like a hand that is laid with gentle but implacable force on the snow, telling it to stay."

Final thoughts

Ultimately, Penney captures the daily rigour of life on the seventeenth century Canadadian frontier by following the threads of disparate lives - where they've been, where they wanted to go, where they may yet go.

There's a certain sadness to all the endings which is wonderfully realistic without being too brutal. Not all the loose ends are tied up, but the central mystery is resolved. I found the conclusion of Mrs Ross' story particularly moving.

This book was such a resounding success with my entire book group - a rarity! - that no-one even noticed the occasionally rather modern dialogue.

("Geez. Keep a girl waiting, why don't you."
"Sorry. Um... it's just that, I'll have to speak to my Dad, to see if he wants me to work....first. Thanks though. It sounds nice."
To be fair to Penney, only the younger characters speak this way, so in that sense the dialogue is perfectly appropriate, which may be why such anachronisms passed by seasoned readers without comment.)

In fact my best efforts to stir up debate and dissension resulted in increasingly positive commentary from the entire group. And I was only drawing their attention to possible flaws in an effort to widen the scope of the discussion: I'd thoroughly enjoyed reading 'The Tenderness of Wolves' too.

(Note to self: seek out a batch of Steph Penney's second novel, 'The Invisible Ones', to see if it is possible to repeat this possibly unprecedented success.)

A gentle, delightful tale of harsh lives and harsher weather, wolves, furs, taboos, and the madness that is born of loneliness.

Recommended. ( )
  brokenangelkisses | Feb 23, 2017 |
I was completely blown away by this book. It took me three tries to get into it, but once I did....Wow! I enjoyed all the different story lines, but truly loved that of Parker and Mrs. Ross. Mrs. Ross was unbelievable. So complex on so many levels. I am still in awe of the ending. How everything intertwined was magnificent. Bravo. Can't wait to read more from this author. ( )
  annabw | Feb 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
I read The Tenderness of Wolves and fell into the story right away; the characters were well drawn and Penney is able to lead the reader from one page to the next.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Times, Alyson Rudd (Jun 23, 2007)
There are few things like an endless vista to make a novel seem really gratifyingly contained. The novel itself comes to seem like a fragile bubble of consciousness beyond whose limits is a threatening void. (And that's what novels, in one essential manner, are.) And living in the rudimentary civilisation of mid 19th-century Canada must have been like living in a novel: there is nothing to concentrate on except the flawed characters of your fellow human beings, and the spoor left by their movements. And that, in a way, is all The Tenderness of Wolves is about.
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The last time I saw Laurent Jammet, he was in Scott's store with a dead wolf over his shoulder.
Laurenta Jammeta sem nazadnje videla v Scottovi trgovini z mrtvim volkom čez ramo.
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Book description
1867, Canada

As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a woman steels herself for the journey of a lifetime. A man has been brutally murdered and her seventeen-year-old son has disappeared. The violence has re-opened old wounds and inflamed deep-running tensions in the frontier township - some want to solve the crime; others seek only to exploit it.

To clear her son's name, she has no choice but to follow the tracks leaving the dead man's cabin and head north into the forest and the desolate landscape that lies beyond it....
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1867. Winter has just tightened its grip on Dove River, an isolated settlement in Canada's Northern Territory, when a man is brutally murdered. A local woman, Mrs. Ross, stumbles upon the crime scene and sees tracks leading from the dead man's cabin north toward the forest and the tundra beyond. But soon she makes another discovery: her son has disappeared and is now considered a prime suspect. A variety of outsiders are drawn to the crime and to the township--but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it? One by one, searchers set out to follow the tracks across a desolate landscape, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for seventeen years, and a forgotten Native American culture before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good.--From publisher description.… (more)

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