" Pale foam rose from where her shoes sank into the mud. No more voices inside her head, no noise but these dogs. She saw her own course along the ground as a trail of bright light, now doused in the ditchwater. She clambered up the bank onto a road, her stiff funeral skirt made of bedspread and curtain, her hair wild and falling in dark ropes about her face. The widow gathered up her shawl and fled witchlike down the empty road."
It is 1903 - a young woman flees alone across the icy western wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. Bloodhounds track her through the trees. Half mad! Already a widow - by her own hand. Pursued by two relentless and vengeful brothers, she is forced to flee ever deeper into the mountains and away from civilisation.
The young woman has a name, Mary Boulton, but is referred to throughout as 'the widow'. Strange and I found it a bit irritating.
The writing is simple but beautifully evocative with a great many descriptive phrases and lyrical paragraphs that bring alive the vast mountain wilderness and the small mining community that provide the setting. But..... at times it was too much and overpowered the story.
I had to stop thinking of it as an adventure thriller which is what the synopsis suggests it is. With its slightly haunting and unreal atmosphere it seemed to me more like the retelling of a myth , a tale of a mad murderess that has been handed down the generations.......I liked it more reading from that perspective.
As she runs the widow reflects on her life and we learn of her upbringing, her marriage, and the circumstances that led to her taking her husbands life.
And along the way, a number of memorable characters come to her rescue in the nick of time. Cowboys and Indians, a solitary mountain man who saves her from starvation in the mountains, a preacher and a dwarf storekeeper when she eventually comes to the mining town of Frank.
I didn't like the ending!
Unusual and original, beautiful writing, interesting characters and historical background - I liked and enjoyed it but small inconsistencies prevented me from loving it.
Canadian Book Challenge 6