Monday, 2 November 2015

Two good reads

I've enjoyed two of my most recent reads. One was a book club read, the Wolf Border by Sarah Hall and the other was The Round House by Louise Erdrich.
Sarah Hall's  story has a fairly feisty heroine, Rachel, who starts out as a free spirit, leading a project studying wolves in Montana. She pays a brief visit home, to visit her mother in Cumbria,, returns to the wolf reservation where she is working and has a brief fling with a Kyle, a fellow worker and Native American. After the sudden death of her mother, Rachel returns to Cumbria when offered a job involving the bringing back to Britain of a pair of wolves, into a reserve set up by an aristocrat, Thomas.
Rachel settles into the familiar Cumbrian landscape, then discovers she is pregnant. There is a lot of comparison with the newly -imported wolves and their breeding and Rachel's pregnancy and eventual motherhood. Her ambivalent emotions are described very well. I enjoyed Sarah Hall's writing, which can be lyrical in her description of the local environment, and also almost staccato when describing meetings and talk between her characters. The contrast of Thomas and his son and daughters lives with Rachel and her team of co- workers is well brought out, and her difficult relationship with her younger brother and his wife, childless but not through choice is tenderly interesting and topical read, as there is much public discussion about the re-wilding of Britain; elsewhere in Europe where wolves are successfully increasing their range in the French Alps, Italy and Spain, the discussion is about how farmers might be compensated for loss of livestock attacked by wolves.

The Round House by Louise Erdrich is a quite different read.It is written from the point of view of Joe, a 12 year old Native American, whose mother is attacked and raped, The story concerns the consequences of this act for Joe, an only child , and his parents. It also covers some Native American legends, as well as the legal side of reservation life. I really cared about Joe and his group of friends as they dealt with the complexities of the adult world around them, as well as the problems the attack on Joe's mother had brought to the whole community.
I found this an interesting read, showing a part of modern American life of which I knew very little. Louise Erdrich is an award winning novelist and poet, as well as being part Ojibwe Native American, so writes from a particular point-of-view.
I had this on my bookshelves for a couple of years, then saw a copy in a French bookshop,  and plucked it off my shelves to read and enjoy.

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