Day 802: This Godforsaken Place

Cover for This Godforsaken PlaceAbigail Peacock and her father are regretting the impetuous desire for adventure that led them to journey thousands of miles from England to a remote village in northwestern Ontario to run a school. In 1885 the living conditions are primitive, and Abigail’s father has fallen ill in the depths of winter. Abigail continues to run the school and finds her life tedious. Lars, the helpful store owner who brought them there to teach Swedish rail workers and miners English, is almost certainly going to propose marriage. Abigail is not enthused.

Abigail is not at first receptive to Lars’ suggestion that she get a rifle. But eventually she buys one on a whim, guiltily spending some of her family’s savings. She finds an area outside of town to practice, and it soon becomes the only thing she enjoys. One day, though, she arrives at her practice location to find a wounded, unconscious cowboy. It’s not totally clear, but suggested, that she shot him by mistake the day before.

Here’s where the story started to lose me a little bit. Abigail doesn’t want anyone to disturb the place she practices, so instead of going for help, she leaves the cowboy there and returns at times to nurse him. This decision eventually leads to an even more morally challenged decision and then to a cross-country journey to find a man connected with Buffalo Bill Cody’s western show.

I don’t expect characters to be perfect, but this is the same person whose desire to do the right thing puts herself and a friend in jeopardy later in the novel. And then there’s the way they get out of it.

This kind of thing probably won’t bother many readers, though, and the novel does make an inventive adventure story with a strong heroine. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it. Still, just one more caveat.

Part of the novel is devoted to a rebellion in Canada that I hadn’t heard of before, of the Métis people lead by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. Early in the novel, information on this topic is introduced through synopses of news articles Abigail is reading to her father and through some discussion. These sections and later ones are handled a little awkwardly because of the amount of information and its method of introduction. The way it was handled made me wonder what it was doing in the story. The information fits into the story eventually, but I feel, firstly, that it could have been introduced more smoothly, and secondly, that the novel unhandily juxtaposes the rebellion, the James Gang, and Annie Oakley.

When I read in an interview of Gault on Consumed by Ink that Gault wanted to write something that combined her research into those three topics, it made perfect sense to me. I just think the subjects could have been combined in a way that seemed more likely.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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8 thoughts on “Day 802: This Godforsaken Place

  1. Naomi November 6, 2015 / 12:44 pm

    I found the historical information interesting enough that I didn’t seem to notice that it was presented awkwardly. I did, however, notice that some of the choices made by Abigail didn’t always seem entirely believable. For example, I know I wouldn’t have wanted to keep a wounded cowboy secret – I’m pretty sure I would have let someone know right away. But, I’m also not as adventurous as Abigail turned out to be, so i chalked some of her choices up to her personality. In the end, although I didn’t find it completely realistic, I thought it was a fun read and included some interesting history and historical people.
    Thanks for linking to the review!

    • Naomi November 6, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      I meant to say to the interview! 🙂

      • whatmeread November 6, 2015 / 12:46 pm

        I knew what you meant! 😉

    • whatmeread November 6, 2015 / 12:46 pm

      Yeah, I thought how they ended up getting out of trouble at the end was really pushing it.

      • Naomi November 6, 2015 / 12:54 pm

        You’re probably right! Then again, I would never have chosen to take back the money in the first place. I would have either stayed put or gone back to England. 🙂

      • whatmeread November 6, 2015 / 12:57 pm

        Yes, that’s true! Having shot two men without reporting it or getting help, why should she return the money?

  2. Carolyn O November 11, 2015 / 5:02 pm

    Such an interesting concept, but it sounds like the execution is off. Love the title of the book, though.

    • whatmeread November 12, 2015 / 8:29 am

      Well, Naomi liked it better than I did. Sometimes I think I might be too picky.

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