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The Tenderness of Wolves [Paperback]

Stef Penney
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Kindle Edition 2.98  
Hardcover --  
Paperback 4.79  
Paperback, 8 Feb 2007 6.04  
Audio, CD, Abridged, Audiobook --  
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Book Description

8 Feb 2007

1867, Canada: as winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a man is brutally murdered and a 17-year old boy disappears. Tracks leaving the dead man's cabin head north towards the forest and the tundra beyond. In the wake of such violence, people are drawn to the township - journalists, Hudson's Bay Company men, trappers, traders - but do they want to solve the crime or exploit it? One-by-one the assembled searchers set out from Dove River, pursuing the tracks across a desolate landscape home only to wild animals, madmen and fugitives, variously seeking a murderer, a son, two sisters missing for 17 years, a Native American culture, and a fortune in stolen furs before the snows settle and cover the tracks of the past for good. In an astonishingly assured debut, Stef Penney deftly waves adventure, suspense, revelation and humour into a panoramic historical romance, an exhilarating thriller, a keen murder mystery and ultimately, with the sheer scope and quality of her storytelling, one of the books of the year.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 466 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus; New Ed edition (8 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847240674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847240675
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stef Penney was born and grew up in Edinburgh. After a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Bristol University she turned to film-making, studying Film and TV at Bournemouth College of Art. On graduation she was selected for the Carlton Television New Writers Scheme and has since written and directed two short films. Her first novel, The Tenderness of Wolves is a world-wide bestseller and prolific award-winner. Stef lives in London.

Product Description

Review

“This subtle and superb novel brings the freezing landscape of the Canadian woods to such vivid life that the landscape itself becomes a strong character within the story. Once you have dived into the tiny, closeted world of Caulfield and its forbidding surroundings, you will certainly not wish to leave.” Crimesquad.com

“…Stef Penney's hefty first novel The Tenderness of Wolves, mines her setting and period for all it's got and then some, injecting plenty of invented intrigue and Da Vinci Code like revelations of Huge Cultural Importance whenever she can. The result is an entertaining, well-constructed mystery that jazzes up the “real” history in a way that's more Ron Howard than Pierre Berton. It's…sexy, suspenseful, densely plotted storytelling…The Tenderness of Wolves remains a first-rate gripper with a notably sensual as well as psychological understanding of its main characters. More than this, it is a novel with far greater ambitions than your average thriller, combining as it does the themes of Conrad's Heart of Darkness with Atwood's Survival, and lashing them to a story that morphs Ian Rankin…” Andrew Pyper, The Globe and Mail

… a highly-assured debut….Stef Penney has written an absorbing and stylish mystery. The Glasgow Herald

… a quite remarkable debut novel.' Birmingham Post

a tense and delicately written thriller - The Observer

unquestionably atmospheric, evocative and eventually rewarding - Independent On Sunday

From the Publisher

Winner of the Costa Book Award 2007 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
167 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, gripping thriller 12 Feb 2007
By A. Craig HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stef Penney's debut has attracted some hostility from the literary establishment on winning the Costa (formerly Whitbread) prize as Book of the Year,largely because "nobody has read it" and the author researched her subject in libraries rather than by trekking through the wastes of Canada. Well, stuff them. It's a terrific novel, and the judges were absolutely right to prefer it over Boyd's latest or even the charming memoir about a happy East End childhood.

Mrs. Ross, the narrator, is a Scottish pioneer and ex-asylum inmate who discovers the body of a French trapper, murdered and scalped in his house near Dove river. Her beautiful, adopted 17 year old son Francis has disappeared, and so has the victim's money and a piece of bone which may prove the "Indians" had a written culture. A half-breed Cherokee trapper is arrested and beaten up to try nad force a confession out of him, but the magistrate has more compassion than the fur-trading company to whom all are in thrall, and releases him. Mrs Ross and Parker embark on an epic journey, tracking her son and another, fainter set of footprints, across snow and ice. In their wake are more Company hunters, bent on tracking them down...

It is a wonderful story, set in 1867 and featuring an agoraphobic heroine who must overcome her fears (and her growing passion for her guide) to find justice. In many ways it reminded me of Ursula le Guin's masterpiece, The Left-Hand of Darkness, for though this is meticulously researched historical fiction, not fantasy, it shares the same sense of passion and desperation growing on the extreme edges of civilisation. All the characters are well-drawn, and though the narrative switches between first and third person, it is consistently interesting and beautifully written.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and enjoyable 6 Aug 2007
By Suzie
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The first few chapters of this book failed to capture my interest, but as I read on I became more and more engrossed. Part of the problem was my initial dislike for the main protagonist, Mrs Ross, who seemed aloof and unsympathetic. But as more of her motivations and background were revealed she became someone with whom it was easier to empathise. She was certainly courageous.

Various threads have been cleverly woven into this accomplished first novel, although I agree that the bone tablet seems little more than a distraction. No doubt with more thought it could have had greater relevance. There are a lot of characters, but the author handled her large cast effectively, avoiding any confusion about who they all were.

The ending is perhaps a bit sudden, predictable even (but only late in the book), and although there are some loose ends, they were not left hanging entirely free - there is nothing wrong with being left to imagine what might or might not ensue from the hints and insinuations scattered through the final chapters.

As others have said, one of the strengths of the book is its portrayal of vast snow-covered forests and wilderness. There are other books with an equally strong if not better sense of coldness - Helen Dunmore's 'The Siege' and 'A Spell of Winter', for instance, or Anita Shreve's 'Light on Snow' - but nevertheless, Stef Penney's descriptions are shiveringly realistic.

It is obvious from the other reviews that the book has disappointed some. It isn't perfect, but I can only say that I found it an easy and enjoyable read - and certainly one I would recommend.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and deserved winner of the Costa prize 12 Feb 2007
By A. Craig HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Stef Penney's debut has attracted some hostility from the literary establishment on winning the Costa (formerly Whitbread) prize as Book of the Year,largely because "nobody has read it" and the author researched her subject in libraries rather than by trekking through the wastes of Canada. Well, stuff them. It's a terrific novel, and the judges were absolutely right to prefer it over Boyd's latest or even the charming memoir about a happy East End childhood.

Mrs. Ross, the narrator, is a Scottish pioneer and ex-asylum inmate who discovers the body of a French trapper, murdered and scalped in his house near Dove river. Her beautiful, adopted 17 year old son Francis has disappeared, and so has the victim's money and a piece of bone which may prove the "Indians" had a written culture. A half-breed Cherokee trapper is arrested and beaten up to try nad force a confession out of him, but the magistrate has more compassion than the fur-trading company to whom all are in thrall, and releases him. Mrs Ross and Parker embark on an epic journey, tracking her son and another, fainter set of footprints, across snow and ice. In their wake are more Company hunters, bent on tracking them down...

It is a wonderful story, set in 1867 and featuring an agoraphobic heroine who must overcome her fears (and her growing passion for her guide) to find justice. In many ways it reminded me of Ursula le Guin's masterpiece, The Left-Hand of Darkness, for though this is meticulously researched historical fiction, not fantasy, it shares the same sense of passion and desperation growing on the extreme edges of civilisation. All the characters are well-drawn, and though the narrative switches between first and third person, it is consistently interesting and beautifully written.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling and just a fantastic read
Throughly enjoyed this from cover to cover, was unable to put it down until I'd finished the whole book. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Ms. M Imaz
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Our first book club read and a very enjoyable book. It provoked lots of discussion and I would certainly recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by Karen
1.0 out of 5 stars Slow going
I never leave a book unfinished but this was a real struggle. Nicely written but very slow. Too many characters and you don't get to know any in detail.
Published 1 month ago by BK
4.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling Trek
A troublesome tale in time and place, yet a story that pulls you into a culture and activity that is no longer with us, and quite intriguing. Read more
Published 2 months ago by joycegeorge
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
Great story, and so full of atmosphere. You can feel the cold in your bones. I can heartily recommend it.
Published 2 months ago by Martin P
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much use of first person narrative
It wasn't easy to follow this story which jumped from narrator to narrator and often it was difficult to work out who was responsible for the voice. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ms I Baird
1.0 out of 5 stars confused!
this book jumps back and forth between past and present tenses and different narrators. there are too many periferal characters to keep tabs on and a lot of them can be ignored. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Reader22
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tenderness of Wolves
The book drew me into the story
but the ending was strange
unless there will be another book following on from this one ? Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sue Goldsmith
4.0 out of 5 stars good story full of adventure
I really liked this book, where one of the heroes is a woman. Gave great insight into how life was lived in the wilds of Canada, many years ago. Read more
Published 3 months ago by lesley
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY BRILL
This is probably the best book I have read since Shadow of the Wind-could not put it down until finished!!!
Published 3 months ago by TED
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