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The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
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The Last Crossing (2003)

by Guy Vanderhaeghe

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6692120,448 (3.96)57

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Already forgotten what this book was about.
  MelissaLenhardt | Mar 11, 2018 |
”I think it’s safe to say that a fondness for all things past is a sure sign of creeping rot.”

In 1870, Charles and Addington Gaunt are charged by their father with the task of leaving England and traveling across the U.S. to find their brother Simon, who has not been heard from in some time. His companion’s body was found by a prospector but there was no sign of Simon. So the hunt is on across the American and Canadian West, through unfriendly Indian country. Along the way the brothers take up with an unlikely cast of characters and it’s the interactions of these people, each with their own thorny reasons for joining the group, combined with the beauty and danger of the far West that make this narrative sing.

No question about it, Vanderhaeghe is a masterful storyteller. His descriptions of the region and people, and the intimate vignettes---the discovery of an Indian village devastated by smallpox, the meeting of a Metis caravan, a sharpshooter’s shocking obliteration of his victim---had me furiously turning pages. The book is worth the read just to sink into the few pages devoted to the bear hunt. Incredible characters, each with their own demons, and each depicted in insightful detail by an author who has the ability to cast a spell like few other authors I’ve encountered. If I was going to compare him to anyone it might be Dickens and the book certainly brought back memories of Lonesome Dove.

Vanderhaeghe is a new author for me and only affirms my belief that the best writers often come from Canada. I’ll be moving on to another of his before too long. ( )
4 vote brenzi | Feb 2, 2018 |
(8.5) ( )
  HelenBaker | Sep 5, 2017 |
This book is Canada's answer to Lonesome Dove, thus it is a tale of the Old West with a group of people travelling through it. The descriptions of the country are vivid and the characters are fascinating. There is even a love story for the sentimentalists. This was also a present from my husband so it has to stay in my permanent collection. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 10, 2017 |
One of the best books I've read in a long time. Vanderhaeghe combines American history with wonderful characterizations, strong personalities, actions, and feelings of loyalty, love, revenge, and loss into a dynamic, must-read Western adventure.

Lucy, Custis, Simon and Charles are the best characters, playing off the very real Jerry Potts, half-Indian, half-Scotsman, guide, interpreter and man of few words.

Very readable and thrilling, The Last Crossing offers much; examples of courage, sacrifice, patience, romance, smarts and of course, a few surprises. I highly recommend this book. ( )
  Bookish59 | Jul 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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This book is dedicated to all those local historians who keep the particulars of our past alive.
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I let myself into the house, stand looking up the stairs, turn, go into the study, pour a whisky and soda.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802141757, Paperback)

Set in the late 19th century, The Last Crossing, Guy Vanderhaeghe's first novel since his acclaimed Englishman's Boy, is the story of three well-off English brothers: twins Simon and Charles Gaunt and their elder sibling, Addington, a former soldier and an arrogant scoundrel. At the behest of their dictatorial father, Charles and Addington travel the prairies of the U.S. and Canada in search of sensitive Simon, who has disappeared. Much of the novel concerns their journeys--bottles of port and claret rattling in their wagons--through Indian country with a cast of intricately drawn, fully realized characters. The small troupe is led through the whiskey-coloured light by Jerry Potts, a half-breed with one foot firmly in each world. The heart of the plot involves the love that Charles, a painter, feels for Lucy Stoveall, a simple but lovely country woman who accompanies them, secretly intent on avenging her sister's murder. However, the most intriguing character in this marvelous collection of all-too-human personalities is Custis Straw, a Bible-reading, heavy-drinking Civil War veteran who hides his tremendous dignity behind a bumbling facade, and who also loves Lucy.

Vanderhaeghe's rich language reveals a genuine feel for the prairies and their rough settlements: "a boom town draws rogues like a jam jar draws wasps," he writes, and describes "miles of wet plain patched with apple green, new penny copper, glints of silver." Though this is a Western in the traditional sense, Vanderhaeghe never sinks into parody. Rather, he uses the Western motif to reveal a number of profound universal truths about personal honour, and human failings and strengths. His humane character depictions reach emotional depths found in few novels today. --Mark Frutkin, Amazon.ca

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

(see all 6 descriptions)

The search for wealthy and idealistic young Englishman Simon Gaunt who has gone missing in the wilds of the American West, brings together an assortment of characters, each with his or her own purpose, including Simon's brothers Addington and Charles, their Scots-Indian guide Jerry Potts, journalist Caleb Ayto, revenge-minded Lucy Stoveall, and Civil War veteran Custis Straw.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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