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The outlander by Gil Adamson

The outlander (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Gil Adamson

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1,065837,874 (3.78)199
Title:The outlander
Authors:Gil Adamson
Info:New York: Ecco, 2008.
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:fiction, female author, canadian, canada, montana, historical fiction, adventure, travel, suspense, ecco, harpercollins, bookshelf33

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The Outlander by Gil Adamson (2007)


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Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
The Outlander - Gil Adamson
5 stars

We live in a time when there are labels, diagnosis, and treatment for mental disorders. At the turn of the 20th century the teenaged ‘widow’ of this story has nothing and noone to help her negotiate an abusive marriage, postpartum depression, and psychosis. She is, physically and mentally, on the run in the Canadian wilderness.

This story is full of tension and suspense. The writing is evocative, lyrical, and sometimes almost mystical. In the beginning, the story is steeped in the widow’s physical sensations. I could almost hear her labored breathing and feel the frozen dampness of her clothing. The writing and the plot become more substantial as she encounters other wonderful, eccentric characters who help her return to reality. I felt that Adamson’s writing style shifted subtly to reflect the ‘widow’s’ changing mental state. As she became clearer in her thinking, the writing became more concerned with external events. This is a coming of age story, but not like any other one that I’ve read. It’s a survival story of physical and mental toughness. The ending was perfect.

The ‘widow’ reminded me a bit of Atwood’s Alias Grace and the setting was similar to The Tenderness of Wolves. It was a much faster read than either of those books, which is sad, because I didn’t want it to be over. ( )
  msjudy | Aug 29, 2016 |
“Drop it. She’s done. Who knows who they were. Who knows where they took her. And even if you knew”— he spread his small hands out —“what could you do? Are you Sam Steele?” The two of them drunk for two days, until the Ridgerunner could drink no more, and merely sat holding his head. Then a long, sorry, sober night during which the dwarf had chattered to stave off his companion’s unnerving silence, telling story after story, every one about her. Wondering at the particulars of her past, the whiff of crime, her dreadful pursuers, recounting the incredible fact of her firing upon them. Questions that were unanswered and unanswerable. It had been a wake.

I wish there was a better start to the new year, but this is the first book I finished and it was disappointing.

Not that the book was a total waste of time but the story was just bland - especially after having read Alias Grace, The Tenderness of Wolves, and The Silence of the North.

This book follows the story of Mary Boulton ("the widow"), a nineteen year old woman who is on the run after killing her husband. This is not a spoiler, by the way. This is given away within the first few pages of the book (and it's all over the blurb, too).

Now, given that we already know why "the widow" is on the run and there is not much mystery to her story, I expected the book to come up with another element that would keep me guessing what happens next or how certain characters would interact or develop. Apparently that was too much to ask.

I really liked the main character Mary, the widow, but there wasn't much of a journey of discovery with her or any of the other characters. It did not help that it was quite hard to get close to any of the characters because the author decided to be quirky and instead of referring to them by name referred to the characters mostly by their description or some other form of label which somewhat reduced the characters to just that preconception which was implied by the label.

So, we have "the widow", the "dwarf", the "old woman", the "Ridgerunner", etc.

This did not work for me. It made the book read like it was still a draft and the characters still needed a lot of work before they could gain any depth.

The other elements that did not work for me was that, while the "widow" was on the run, there was no contemplation on her part about where she was running to or how she would escape prosecution by the "twins". She's on the run but seems get caught up in every encounter she makes. How is this being on the run?

The second issue I have with the book is that it quickly turns into a romance, which is quite far fetched in the first place and actually distracts from what could have been an interesting book. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Pulled it off the shelf in Hawthorne, read a couple of pages, put it back.  The plot is adventure, the descriptions of the landscape make me suffer the landscape, the main character is the girl" or "a widow."  Somebody is awfully full of herself, it seems to me...."
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
First of all, this is a fantastic story about a young woman surviving and becoming stronger in the process. The setting is in rugged country of Western Canada. The people she meets along the way are very interesting in their own right. There are miners, horse thieves, people supporting the mining community such as a rather unorthodox preacher and an owner of the local store, a man living out on the land for years, Native Americans, a somewhat strange and kind lady, and more. Their daily life is there for you to see. The environment is described beautifully. The detail of every aspect of life in that place and time is there, yet it is not a detraction or boring. There is always the story moving right along. A totally remarkable book. ( )
  ajlewis2 | Feb 24, 2016 |
This is a fascinating tale of a widow's escape into the wilderness, into near-insanity, losing one life and gaining another. I loved Gil Adamson's poetic writing, especially her piercingly true similes. I loved peering into the characters' souls and seeing their personalities through their actions.

The book starts during the escape, plunking us in the middle of a mystery...what happened to make her run? Did she kill her husband and if so, how and why? What would happen to her? Was she insane? The answers to those questions do not come quickly, which was occasionally frustrating, but appropriate based on the narrative style and the continuous suspense. How she survives in the wintry Rockies is only part of the story; the characters she meets are all intriguing and could have filled the story even if she'd died early in the book.

P.S. There are gruesome details in this book, so it may not be for all of you. There is also bleakness at times, which even made me take a break at times, but the writing, characterizations and mystery kept me riveted once I started again. 4.5 stars.
( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
There are plenty of improbabilities in The Outlander, and yet it’s a great read. Adamson is an impressive stylist who knows how to keep an unlikely story moving at a swift and graceful pace.
If you never managed to track down a good read for your Christmas break, this may just make up for it. Striking, thoughtful, full of unexpected twists, The Outlander is that rare delight: a novel that is beautifully written yet as gripping as any airport page-turner....Say the words "feminist western" and people may groan, confronted with images of Sharon Stone in chaps for The Quick and the Dead, or a rip-roarin', yee-hawin' Calamity Jane. But this is a serious, literary book that moves far beyond genre or gender stereotypes. It's also hugely enjoyable - as the cowpokes might say, a rattling good yarn

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"Now goes the sun under the wood,
I pity, Mary, thy fair face.
Now goes the sun under the tree, I pity, Mary, thy son and thee." Anon, thirteenth century.

"We could be meeting Jacob and the angel, We could be meeting our sleeplessness." - Charles Simic
For Adrian, the good father
First words
It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling.
Enter the narrow gate. The gate that leads to perdition is wide and many go that way; but the gate that leads to life is small and the road narrow and those that find it are few
... one was a follower, a second, identical perhaps in size and shape, and certainly colouring, standing abreast of his brother as if he were his equal, but he was not. He was somehow subordinate, in shadow, a copy not entirely faithful to the original.
She remembered her father saying about a man he disliked, … “he believes in moderation in all things, including sense.”
Am I happy? she thought. Is this happy? . . . she had found a kind of amnesty. It wasn’t happiness, not damned happiness.
The dwarf and the woman, lucky miscreants, outlanders, errors that should not exist but lived on anyway.
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Book description
On a moonlit night in 1903, a mysterious young woman flees alone across the Canadian wilderness, one quick step ahead of her pursuers. Mary Boulton is nineteen years old, half mad, and widowed - by her own hand. Tearing through the forest with dogs howling in the distance, she is desperate, her nerves burning, and she is certain of one thing only - that her every move is being traced. Two red-headed brothers, rifles across their backs, lurch close behind her: monstrous figures, identical in every way, with the predatory look of hyenas. She has murdered their brother, and their cold lust for vengeance is unswerving. As the widow scrambles to stay ahead of them, the burden of her existence disintegrates into a battle in which the dangers of her own mind become more menacing than the dangers of the night. Along the way, the steely outlaw encounters a changing cast of misfits and eccentrics. Some, like the recluse known as 'The Ridgerunner', provide a brief respite from her solitude; others, like the Reverend Bonnycastle, offer support only to reveal that they too have their own demons raging inside. As she is plunged further away from civilisation, her path from retribution to redemption slowly unfurls. A startling transformation of the classic western narrative, The Outlander is the haunting tale of one young woman's deliberate journey deep into the wild.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061491349, Paperback)

In 1903 Mary Boulton flees alone across the West, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At nineteen, she has just become a widow–and her husband's killer. As bloodhounds track her frantic race toward the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two ruthless brothers-in-law are in pursuit, determined to avenge their younger brother's death. Responding to little more than the primitive instinct for survival at any cost, she retreats ever deeper into the wilderness–and into the wilds of her own mind.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:17 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Fleeing the law in 1903 after killing her husband, Mary Boulton races toward the mountains while being tormented by visions about the cold-blooded brothers-in-law who pursue her, a situation that forces her to retreat deeper into the wilds of the West and her own imagination.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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