Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

The Tenderness of Wolves (2006)

by Stef Penney

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,1641223,003 (3.76)400

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 400 mentions

English (116)  Spanish (4)  Norwegian (1)  Catalan (1)  All (122)
Showing 1-5 of 116 (next | show all)
I liked this but not as much as The Invisibles Ones which I thought was better plotted. But this had many good elements - 19th Canada, Indians, a shout-out to captivity narratives, and lots of snow. It ended with a bit of a whimper though. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
"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. I am too shocked to feel fear, too excited to care about the impropriety of it. I suppose if you have already lost what matters most, then little things like reputation and honour lose their lustre. (Besides, if the worst comes to the worst, I can remind myself that I have sold my honour far more cheaply than this. I can remind myself of that, if I have to.)"

As the nights are drawing in and the temperatures are dropping to the point that I needed to switch the heating on, this was the perfect book to get in the mood for the upcoming season.

There are a few things that I could criticize about this book - like the holes in some of the sub-plots, anachronisms, the use of 20th century expressions and attitudes that detract from the 1867 setting - but all in all these are minor flaws.

I loved this book. Not least for its writing:

"Sometimes, you find yourself looking at the forest in a different way. Sometimes it’s no more than the trees that provide houses and warmth, and hide the earth’s nakedness, and you’re glad of it. And then sometimes, like tonight, it is a vast dark presence that you can never see the end of; it might, for all you know, have not just length and breadth to lose yourself in, but also an immeasurable depth, or something else altogether. And sometimes, you find yourself looking at your husband and wondering: is he the straightforward man you think you know–provider, friend, teller of poor jokes that nonetheless make you smile–or does he too have depths that you have never seen? What might he not be capable of?"

So what that the language doesn't fit into 1867? The same concept worked for Marty McFly... Anyway, just to clarify, this book is not about time travel.

The Tenderness of Wolves is a mystery set in the wintry northeast of Canada between communities of immigrants and natives, where the murder of a local trapper and the disappearance of a local youth set in motion an unlikely turn of events.
But it is not just a murder mystery. What I loved about the book is what some other reviewers found distracting - that it a number of subplots.
There are stories of people looking for something they have lost, of people looking for their own way in life, of people trying to remember who they are, of people trying to make new starts. Some fail, some succeed.

The subplots add a great deal of depth to the characters and bring to life how in a largely isolated small community nearly everything is connected. Ironically, for a story set in the freezing north, there is a lot of warmth; and for a story largely set in the wilderness, there is a lot of humanity, even though the stoicism portrayed by characters and the brutality of some of the events ensure that this is by no means a cozy read.

This review was first posted on BookLikes: http://brokentune.booklikes.com/post/1002481/the-tenderness-of-wolves
( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
Quite an epic read. A really good murder mystery with adventure, a great sense of place, suspense, romance and a bit of humor thrown into the mix. I thought the character development was fantastic and I loved the cold, winter, wilderness setting. The only fault I found which is why I gave it only three stars is that it is a bit long and drawn out. The stories taking place along with the main one are great stories, but I felt it went on a bit long and I found myself wishing for the end. I was captivated with the story but not the length of the story. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Aug 17, 2016 |
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney opens with a murder. Mrs Ross, looking for her son who had not come home for two nights goes to see if he is visiting his friend Laurent Jammet, a French trapper and former voyageur. She finds Jammet with his throat cut and her son, Francis, missing. This happens in the small village of Dove River, a settlement on the northern shore of Lake Huron during the hegemony of the Hudson Bay Company. The Company immediately sends a group of functionaries to investigate, functionaries who seem to wield more power than the local magistrate, Mr Knox.

Parker, a trapper friend of Jammet’s arrives and makes a convenient suspect as he is non-white and not-local, and the Company man tries to coerce a confession, leading Knox to intervene. He lets Parker go and Mrs Ross asks him to take her with him to look for her son while he looks for the real murderer. Sounds like a pretty straightforward mystery, right?

It is anything but. There are several stories being told at the same time. There is the long, almost mythic mystery of the Seton girls, two young children lost in the forest years ago and the lost Norwegians who rebelled against the Company and disappeared into the wild. There’s a bit of an archeological mystery centered on some carvings on a bone that hint of a lost written language of the Indians, something like the Walam Olum or Red Record. There is the conflict between the Hudson Bay Company and the trappers they exploit with their monopoly and the whispered possibility of a rival trading company. There are enough red herrings to make a stew.

The thing is, the mystery is so secondary to the story. It is about the people and how they challenge and are challenged by the land, how they are transformed by that challenge. The land, the forest are so much part of the story. “Sometimes, you find yourself looking at the forest in a different way. Sometimes it’s no more than the trees that provide houses and warmth, and hide the earth’s nakedness, and you’re glad of it. And then sometimes, like tonight, it is a vast dark presence that you can never see the end of; it might, for all you know, have not just length and breadth to lose yourself in, but also an immeasurable depth, or something else altogether.”

This is a beautifully written book. The mystery is fair, but not the most important part of the story. The people are complex. The sense of place is palpable. The language is evocative and powerful. Here is Mrs Ross talking about walking back over her own tracks in the snow. “I find that I have learnt, without realising it, to identify tracks. Every so often I see a print that I know is mine, and I step on it, to rub it out. This country is scored with such marks; slender traces of human desire. But these trails, like this bitter path, are fragile, winterworn, and when the snow falls again, or when it thaws in spring, all trace of our passing will vanish.”

The title might imply that wolves play a big role in the story. Certainly they are suspect in the disappearance of the Seton girls. Parker tells the story of an abandoned wolf pup he raised. As a pup he was playful but as he grew up, he seemed to remember he was a dog, saying there is a Chippewa word, “the sickness of long thinking” the desire to return to the past, the known, to home. That idea is integral to the story as well, the turning toward home. There is so much humanity in this book, an understanding of people and so many people of understanding.

I chose to read The Tenderness of Wolves because it was 97° and it seemed a good idea to read something taking place in a cold place. While reading does not change the actual temperature, it does make it more bearable, especially when there are magical descriptions like this.

“The aurora shimmers in the north like a beautiful dream, and the wind has gone. The sky is vertiginously high and clear, and the deep cold is back; a taut, ringing cold that says there is nothing between me and the infinite depth of space. I crane skywards long after it sends me dizzy. I am aware that I am walking a precarious path, surrounded on all sides by uncertainty and the possibility of disaster. Nothing is within my control. The sky yawns above me like the abyss, and there is nothing at all to stop me from falling, nothing except the wild maze of stars.”

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/the-tenderness-of-wolves-by-stef-penney/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Aug 14, 2016 |
murder in the Arctic Circle, 15 May 2012
sally tarbox

This review is from: The Tenderness of Wolves (Paperback)
1860s Canada: When a French trapper is found scalped in his cabin, there are a number of suspects- Indians; the 'difficult' son of the narrator who's gone missing; the corrupt Hudson Bay Company; unattractive yet charismatic half-breed William Parker...
And so begins an intriguing but extremely complex tale involving a lot of journeying north (and in one case south) by various parties.
A lot of other personalities come into the story and at times it was difficult to remember exactly which journey we were on, and what its purpose was.
But Penney does an excellent job at evoking the frozen North and I quite liked it. ( )
  starbox | Jul 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 116 (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.
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For my parents
First words
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.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Information from the Catalan Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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....
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

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)

» see all 7 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
104 avail.
50 wanted
3 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.76)
0.5 2
1 11
1.5 1
2 23
2.5 16
3 149
3.5 78
4 270
4.5 40
5 110


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 112,372,290 books! | Top bar: Always visible