Friday, June 27, 2008

'The Tenderness of Wolves'

by Stef Penney

Fiction/Mystery, 2006
Quercus, trade pb, 445 p.
WINNER of the Costa Book of the Year 2006, Longlist - Orange Prize 2007
Interview with the author
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…
The quote on the back of my copy that calls it ‘a fascinating, suspense-filled adventure’ pretty much describes my thoughts on it as well. The historical aspects of the fur trade and pioneer life in northern Canada were very interesting. It wasn’t necessarily fast-paced and full of action but the murder mystery and the search for the perpetrator added suspense. And the fact that the search led them through such harsh terrain was certainly an adventure. A nicely told story with a large, varied cast of characters, it was actually the bitterly cold, snowy landscape, so vividly portrayed, that became the strongest element of the story for me. At it’s core, a mystery, but more than that too. All in all, a very enjoyable read.

Stef Penney talks about the novel:

My Rating: 4/5
(#26 for 2008, Book Awards Challenge #11, What's in a Name 'Animal' #4)

Also reviewed at:
Reminder: If you've read and reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.


  1. It seems every time I speak to my mum on the phone she is on at me to read this. I have too much waiting to be read at the moment but hopefully next year I will find time.

  2. The Tenderness of Wolves sounds absolutely wonderful. I'll have to look for that one. Thanks for the review, Nat! I've been looking at the photos I missed while I was away and loving them. Where do you find so many gorgeous flowers to photograph? Are gardens like the iris garden common in Japan?

  3. I've read it and reviewed it here. I wasn't terribly thrilled with it, but it was an okay read.

  4. This does sound good! I will have to add it to my wish list. I seem to be attracted to books with a strong sense of setting these days. I am not sure why, but it seems to be my current phase.

  5. Oh yay! I'm glad to see that you gave this a 4/5. I've been wanting to read it, so I put it as a possibility for two challenges. We'll see how it works out.

  6. Rhinoa- I'm glad I finally got to it by reading it for a challenge. I know what you mean about having so much waiting to be read.

    Nancy- It's not really fast-paced but I loved the setting. As for the flowers, we have a book, A Flower Lover's Guide to Tokyo, that has several suggestions and we try to find places to go since there's not much in the way of parks near us and I need to escape the concrete sometimes. Iris gardens are fairly common since they've been around in Japan in one variety or another for quite some time apparently and praised in poetry. Besides the Japanese generally like flowers. Just look at how the whole country gets excited when the cherry trees blossom in spring. :)

    Marg- Thanks for the link to your review, I've added it. The setting really grabbed me but I can see how it might not be to everyone's taste.

    Wendy- Me too for some reason. A bit of armchair travelling is always nice. :)

    Joy- Read it when you're in the mood for something a bit slower since it's somewhat suspenseful but not really a thriller. And I loved the wintry setting.

  7. Maybe I should read this book now and be transported to a cold country :)
    Glad to hear you enjoyed it. It's on my radar!

  8. I bought this at a book sale this month and am looking forward to reading it. The title caught my eye.

  9. Iliana- LOL. Couldn't hurt! :P

    Charley- I hope you enjoy it when you get to it. :)


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