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Les saisons de la solitude by Joseph Boyden
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Les saisons de la solitude (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Joseph Boyden, Boyden-J (Auteur)

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7053913,430 (4.05)183
Member:raton-liseur
Title:Les saisons de la solitude
Authors:Joseph Boyden
Other authors:Boyden-J (Auteur)
Info:ALBIN MICHEL (2009), Broché, 528 pages
Collections:Your library, Mes étagères, Lectures de 2013 (inactive)
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Tags:001.Roman

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Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden (2008)

Recently added bycaitlindee, RowingRabbit, raynah-l, nreilly, SarahKat84, private library, TimBazzett
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English (37)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Joseph Boyden's THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE won the prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize a few years back and I had read good things about it, so when I found it at a local library sale last month I snatched it up. It starts out well, a tale of two alternating voices: one of them Will Bird, former daredevil bush pilot from Moosonee in far northern Ontario, now badly broken from a savage beating and barely clinging to life in a deep coma; the other voice that of his niece, Annie Bird, sitting vigil at his hospital bedside, telling him of her recent travels and travails in the big cities of Toronto, Montreal and New York, searching for her missing sister, Suzanne, a beautiful and successful model who got mixed up with drugs and pushers. Whew! Long setup sentence that, huh? The story alludes to the effects of the forced attendance of Native American children at a local residential school run by brutal Jesuits - a practice which tore families apart and attempted to destroy a language and way of life. There are also bitter blood feuds between the Native American Cree families involved, as well as beautiful descriptions of the hard and unforgiving wilderness country and small towns around the Moose River and James Bay and the fading tribal culture of hunting and fishing. It's also a tale of love, loss and struggles to build new lives, for both Will and Annie.

So it's certainly got all the elements of a great read. The problem is it simply goes on and on a bit too long, to the point where it becomes almost tedious, and you wish Boyden would just cut to the chase and maybe the point. But he never really does. The story simply winds slowly down to a conclusion that is rather anticlimactic. It's a kind of happily-ever-after ending, but one I found a bit unrealistic and even disappointing. And while I didn't dislike the book, I did think the story could have been a lot better. As I've already said, there is some absolutely beautiful writing here, and I would recommend the book for that, but I do think an astute, skillful and caring editor could have vastly improved the story. ( )
  TimBazzett | Aug 8, 2014 |
What an incredible and beautiful journey into the lives and culture of the Mushkegowuk (Cree) People of Ontario. Perfectly written in every way. I shall now plan my trip to James Bay. AND... Joseph Boyden may now be my new favorite author! ( )
  Jolynne | Jul 4, 2014 |
Two stories intertwine. One is the story of Will Bird, aging son of the WWI war hero Xavier Bird whose story was told in Boyden’s first novel, Three Day Road. The other is the story of Annie, Will’s niece and heir to his father’s and great aunt’s talents as a spirit walker. Annie’s tale is told to the comatose Will in an effort to rouse him from his injury induced coma. Annie has been south to Toronto and on to Montreal and New York in search of her missing sister, Suzanne, whose meteoric rise in the world of high fashion is nearly as mysterious as her equally sudden vanishing. Annie traces Suzanne’s steps even to the point of becoming a model herself and slipping under the drug-fueled thrall of glamour parties, trance music, and sexual desire. Fortunately for Annie, she has picked up a protector in the mute native, Gordon, whose loyalty is unlimited. As Annie tells her tale to her prostrate uncle in the hospital in Moose Factory she both reveals herself and also comes to know herself, especially as this relates to her roots. For as well as being incredibly beautiful and sexy, Annie happens to also be a great hunter and bush person. (Yes, well, the combination does stretch credulity, but it’s just something you’ll have to go with.)

Will’s story is inaudible to the waking world. In his struggle to regain consciousness he recounts some of his life as though to his two nieces. In particular he focuses upon the recent events in Moosonee during which he has been in a simmering feud with the local native drug baron, Marius Netmaker, who has it in for Will in part due to Will’s niece, Suzanne, having run off with Gus, also of the Netmaker clan. Will isn’t fully aware of the source of Marius’ anger, but he rightly assumes it has a history, which only comes to light much later. Together Will and Annie tell their stories through alternating chapters that wind around each other like a double helix, a suitable image for the genetic threads that bind each of these characters together.

Through Black Spruce starts more slowly than its predecessor, Three Day Road. In some ways, I suppose, it is harder to make present day native life in northern Ontario fully believable. Certainly Annie is a bundle of conflicting influences. And even Will, who has spent his life as a daring and brave bush pilot, mixes the ancient and the technologically advanced in a volatile cocktail. But once Annie’s story has taken her south to Toronto it takes on a pace of its own. There are missteps for each of the characters, but perhaps fewer for Boyden himself. The result is a melodramatic tale enriched by its northern Cree roots which will hold your interest and, at times, provoke further thought. Gently recommended. ( )
  RandyMetcalfe | Mar 13, 2014 |
I will buy every Joseph Boyden book that he releases. They are all *that good*. It is hard to put my finger on exactly why his writing is so mesmerizing. Here are some thoughts: the characters are generally all quite realistic, the stories are believable (and don't follow the traditional "hero falls in love, hero fights bad guy, bad guy almost wins, hero emerges victorious" format of so many other books), the use of multiple perspectives which alternate with each chapter... what else? I think that Joseph Boyden has some of that "je ne sais quoi" that a reader doesn't encounter very often. I am crossing my fingers that The Orenda, his latest book, wins Canada Reads 2014 and Joseph Boyden becomes a household name in Canada. His writing is really that special and he deserves to be recognized as one of the best, unique, magical authors alive today.

If you are unsure where to start with Boyden, do not start with Through Black Spruce. If anything, you must read Three Day Road before this one, as it is a sequel of sorts. The Orenda is fantastic and can be enjoyed before or after these two. Born With a Tooth can similarly be read before or after the others. ( )
1 vote ScribbleKey | Feb 25, 2014 |
This is an amazing book - totally swept me in. ( )
  CateK | Jun 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The winner of the 2008 Giller Prize, Canada's top literary award, has just been released in the United States, where I suspect the response will be mixed. Much of this novel reflects its crisp, poetic title, but overall the quality of "Through Black Spruce" wobbles erratically, and what's weakest about the book is its depiction of what we know best: American depravity....This is powerful and powerfully told, but the novel as a whole is weakened by the other story running through Will's.
 
Joseph Boyden won huge critical acclaim with his first novel, Three Day Road, which concerns the First World War experience of Elijah Weesageechak and Xavier Bird, two Cree hunters who fought as snipers with a Canadian regiment. In it, Boyden brought a fresh angle to a well-trodden subject. Now, in Through Black Spruce, he connects these protagonists to explore the overarching theme of addiction and trauma....But the novel weakens when Annie narrates her search for Suzanne, a celebrity model, in Toronto and New York. Manhattan is full of clichés: Soleil the society hostess who toys with newcomers, the coke-head models, the tough-guy drug dealers. It makes a dull contrast to the vivid scenes in the northern wilderness. His characters are most moving when revelations occur in small, quiet moments.
 
Early on in Through Black Spruce, the follow-up to Joseph Boyden’s bestselling first novel, Three Day Road, former bush pilot Will Bird reflects on a recurring dream he used to have some 30 years ago....Boyden is definitely a gifted storyteller. His narrative progresses with practiced ease until, very near the end, it falters in a climax that is pure melodrama – after which, I’m sad to say, the story unravels into a threadbare epilogue: a disappointing finale that does little justice to the rest of the novel.
 
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AMANDA
Nisakihakan

JACOB
Nkosis

WILLIAM AND PAMELA
Kotakiyak Nicishanu
First words
When there was no Pepsi left for my rye whisky, nieces, there was always ginger ale.
Quotations
The humming of a living body, pike or sturgeon, ruffed grouse or moose or human, when it passes to death, the beat of that heart continues, in a lesser way maybe, but it joins the heartbeat of the day and the night. Of our world. When I was younger I believed that the northern lights, the electricity I felt on my skin under my parka, the faint crackle of it in my ears, was Gitchi Manitou collecting the vibrations of lives spent, refuelling the world with these animals’ power.
I want to sit up, put my feet on the floor, close the distance between us, and crawl into his bed. My hand moves to him at the thought of it. I imagine my mouth on his smooth torso. His jutting ribs. His scars. I picture being under a blanket with him, our limbs wrapped around each other, not wanting to let go. He wouldn’t let go. It wouldn’t be hard to lift my leg up and off my own bed. First leg would go, the other following easy. Body follows. Bodies follow.
Lots of times growing up, I'd just try to do something myself because I believed that being a boy, and being Indian, I should just know how to do things. My father understood that my pride would take its course and I'd end up learning two lessons at once. The less painful road was always to just ask him how to do something when I could stomach it, but more important, that to fail at doing something, whether it was surviving a snowstorm or trying to catch fish, meant that pride can kill you, or at the very least make you so hungry you could cry. Learn from your elders. Yes.
I guess we all have our favourite childhood memories. Mine burn inside me like red coals. A cold autumn evening there on the shores of the big water, our canvas prospector's tent glowing by lantern light against the night, the air cold on my cheeks as my moshum, your father, sits with me on a boulder overlooking the water. ... Moshum sits with me and points out how the bay has absorbed the light. He gives names to the stars that appear. North Star. Hunter's Star. Going Home Star. He speaks slow in Cree, the words magic and long, a part of me.
“They are the same stars you see anywhere you go in the world, little Niska,” he says. This name, Niska, Little Goose, has always been his pet name for me. “My own auntie told me that,” Moshum says, “but I didn't learn it until I travelled far away. And now I teach it to you.” I remembered those words. Remember them to this day.
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Book description
From internationally acclaimed author Joseph Boyden comes an astonishingly powerful novel of contemporary aboriginal life, full of the dangers and harsh beauty of both forest and city. When beautiful Suzanne Bird disappears, her sister Annie, a loner and hunter, is compelled to search for her, leaving behind their uncle Will, a man haunted by loss.While Annie travels from Toronto to New York, from modelling studios to A-list parties,Will encounters dire troubles at home. Both eventually come to painful discoveries about the inescapable ties of family. Through Black Spruce is an utterly unforgettable consideration of how we discover who we really are.
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Maintaining a bedside vigil for her comatose uncle, Annie Bird remembers a painful search for her missing sister, while her Uncle Will, a legendary Cree bush pilot, ruminates on a tragic betrayal that cost him his family.

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