One of our Books of the Year 2016.
July 2016 Book of the Month.
For the readership, this is a huge historical novel to immerse yourself in. A dramatic, violent, absorbing, long read for which you need to put aside serious time to devour. You will find it difficult to put down. Charting the lives of two families, the Sels and the Duquets from 1693 to 2013, it tells of the rape of the Canadian natural resources, namely timber and fur but predominantly timber. Hard men made fortunes with little regard for anything but power and wealth, certainly not for their workers’ lives or limbs. The first of the immigrant Sels married an Indian; their offspring are then trapped between two cultures. As you would expect, there is a huge number of characters for characters is what Proulx is all about. This is a truly impressive work detailing the destruction of the forests to the point of ecological disaster.
In the late seventeenth century two penniless young Frenchmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord, a seigneur, for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters - barkskins. Rene suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a Mi'kmaw woman and their descendants live trapped between two inimical cultures. But Duquet, crafty and ruthless, runs away from the seigneur, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years - their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand, under stunningly brutal conditions; the revenge of rivals; accidents; pestilence; Indian attacks; and cultural annihilation. Over and over again, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse. Proulx's inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid - in their greed, lust, vengefulness, or their simple compassion and hope - that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable and compelling American writers, and Barkskins is her greatest novel, a magnificent marriage of history and imagination.
In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. Click here to read the full reviews.
Praise for Annie Proulx: 'A sublimely good writer
'It is hard to think of any living writer who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Dickens, with the exception of Proulx'
'Proulx's prose is monumental'
'Like a mystic seeing the transfigured universe, she recreates the beauty of ordinary things'
Independent on Sunday
'Ms. Proulx writes with all the brutal beauty of one of her Wyoming snowstorms'
Wall Street Journal
'Annie Proulx is a true original. She has a shrewd understanding of people, a strong feeling for landscape and a wry sense of humour rather like Mark Twain's'
Los Angeles Times
'Artful, eloquent, wondrous'
Publication date: 16/06/2016
Publisher: Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||16th June 2016|
|Publisher:||Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Books of the Month, Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Family Drama, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Reading Groups,|
|Categories:||Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945),|
Annie Proulx is the author of eight books, including the novel The Shipping News and the story collection Close Range. Her many honours include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story Brokeback Mountain, which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was made into an Academy Award-winning film. She lives in SeattleMore About Annie Proulx