Although I am Canadian, I went to high school overseas and had a very vague understanding about Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont when I started reading This Godforsaken Place. Like other bloggers I had to Google these historical figures to better understand their role in Canadian history.
Cinda Gault holds a PhD in Canadian national identity issues in women’s writing of the 1960s and 1970s. She teaches and writes about Canadian literature.
After the death of her mother in England, Abigail Peacock migrates to Canada with her father to begin a new life. However, the small town in northern Ontario quickly proves to be too claustrophobic for Abigail’s taste and she longs to be free to live a different life. Abigail continues to be a dutiful daughter, particularly when her father becomes ill and she is forced to take care of him. At the suggestion of Lars, the town’s founder who has taken a keen interest in her, she buys a gun for protection. Learning how to shoot gives Abigail a new lease on life and it becomes the highlight of her day. It’s during her shooting practice out in the wilderness that she discovers a severely injured man and his horse hiding in the bushes. Obvious to her as some kind of criminal, Abigail tries to ignore him. Little does she know this stranger is going to send her on an adventure that will see her travel to new places, make new friends and completely change the direction of her life.
This Godforsaken Place is a historical adventure featuring a strong, female character. I particularly liked how Canadian and American history crosses over in the story and all of the real-life figures of significance who were characters, such as Annie Oakley and Gabriel Dumont.
I felt the story became muddled with the chapters dedicated to Gabriel Dumont, the Métis leader and rebel who fought alongside Louis Riel to preserve Métis rights and culture in Canada. The chapters provide Dumont’s historical background leading up to his joining Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. As fascinating as this history is, I don’t believe it added anything to Abigail’s story, and maybe even detracted from it.
This Godforsaken Place is a remarkable story about takings chances and living life outside of the ordinary. The author mentions in an interview she was surprised to see how the Jesse James gang’s antics and Louis Riel’s rebellion were so close to each other geographically, and she went on to discover many other historical connections that delightfully come together in this book.
I received a copy of This Godforsaken Place with much thanks to Brindle & Glass, but this in no way influenced the thoughts and opinions expressed in my review.