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I remembered this book today, which I read not long after it's initial publication.  This is a credit to a book for me, because there must be many books I could not and would not wish to remember particularly and worse yet some I wish I could forget!  (Mark Haddon's follow-up to his hit publication being a case in point).

The remarkable thing about Stef Penney's book as it was presented at the time was that it had been written and entirely set in the frozen wastes of Canada during the early days of settlement (nineteenth century) and yet Ms Penny had never set foot in Canada, her only experiece of any snowbound wilderness being confined to her native Scotland (and she was a city dweller from Edinburgh at that).  I think the media unkindly fixated on this because she suffered agrophobia and limited all her research to libraries.  The book won the Costa prize in 2006.  During that year I was profoundly in love with a Canadian woman who shared my love of books.  I knew I would read this book, though I had no idea she was to jilt me not long after to my great shock and hurt.

I clearly remember mentioning at book group when I finally did read this book (in 2007, I think) that I could see this novel set as a film script, so it has not suprised me to discover that Stef Penney has also done some work as a film maker, she obviously has a filmic eye when writing, and I think it does her credit that this shines through.  The portrayal of the Hudson Bay Trading Company is interesting and not something that had occurred to me.  I liked the interplay of characters, particularly our heroine and the native, Parker.  Some of the others struck me as a pain in the fundament, particularly the two sisters, one of whom has the awful fate to become a "cat woman"!  The portrayal of the "love that dare not speak it's name" was well done, I thought.  I found the protagonist a great example of a positive model in post-feminist times, even if she does seem to do some extremely dumb things as the adventure side of the novel unfolds (I seem to remember her getting lost in the snow AND allowing her feet to get wet!).

I thought I would post a belated and somewhat abbreviated set of notes on my recollections of this book in view of the weather - the Hamish Henderson post will come in the end!