Sunday, 1 February 2009
The Outlander by Gil Adamson
Bloomsbury €12.99 (Easons price)
MARY Boulton is bolting. She’s killed her husband - it’s not clear why, but there seems to have been a baby involved - and she’s on the run, pursued by his implacable red-headed rifle-toting giant twin brothers across the wilds of 1903 Canada.
So far so good.
Gil Adamson’s first novel was 10 years in the writing, and it is a honed and crafted piece of work.
As ‘the widow’ flees from shelter to shelter, the writing is impeccable, beautifully observed. But somehow I didn’t warm to the story.
Mary takes shelter first with an old widow who takes in waifs and strays, then, disappearing in the night with the widow’s mare and some valuables, she wanders starving and crazy through the mountains.
As she meets other strangers to life, we’re given glimpses of her life with her late husband - marital rapes, dying baby, gambling.
We discover her childhood in the black-bordered home of a depressive minister in mourning for his dead wife.
The Canadian libraries’ candidate for the IMPAC award, this comes with impeccable credentials.
It’s soaked in turn-of-the-century authenticity, and calls up a more realistic version of the world celebrated in a thousand cowboy movies.
An interesting new writer - let’s see what she does next.