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The Tent Peg

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  113 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews

In The Tent Peg, award-winning novelist Aritha van Herk uses her unerring perception and impressive literary skill to capture the mystical mood of the Arctic and the people who are drawn to it.In this intriguing story, a young woman who disguises herself as a man to work in a uranium prospecting camp deep in the Yukon mountains. J.L. is on the run from an empty heart and i
Paperback, 220 pages
Published October 1st 2005 by Red Deer Press (first published 1981)
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Aug 11, 2009 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: feminist, bookclub
This book starts off in realism with an interesting format - each character views events from their own perspective. As the novel moves on it moves more into a mystical realm but only subtly so (brief communions with bears).

I found each character to be believable and true to themselves. The backdrop of an exploration camp is interesting (but black nights in the summer in the Yukon? this kept throwing me whenever it was mentioned).

I think for those who know their Bible stories better would get mo
Jocelyn Murphy
May 24, 2017 Jocelyn Murphy rated it it was amazing
Read this in one sitting at the cottage this past weekend. Could not put it down. I kept wanting to go put the kettle on for tea or grab a cold beer, but the pages kept turning and I was transfixed. For such a relatively simple story, the characters are complex and human - even the ones I grew to despise.

I have such a warm place in my heart for this story, for J.L., and for Aritha Van Herk.
Oct 23, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: international
Knowing the bible story of Jael and the tent peg is not a must before reading this book, but it does help. In some ways this book is a bit dated with its earth mother type references, but at the same time the way the men in the camp view JL it could have been written yesterday.

The story is told through the reflections of the characters, so each chapter is through a different lens. Some characters are more realistic than others. I found it hard to believe that some of the men in camp could be so
Nadine Doolittle
Jan 12, 2011 Nadine Doolittle rated it really liked it
Did I like The Tent Peg? Yes, I guess I did. I can't imagine giving it less than 4 stars because it's well-written and absorbing. But the story itself was slim or maybe I didn't get it. The main character heals the men of their various hang-ups. A goddess of sorts in the Arctic. The theme or the handling of theme is dated. I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Bit of a backhanded review/praise; Van Herk was writing for her time and from her experience. It's lyrical and metaphorical. Sometimes a gal just wa
Korry Garvey
Jan 25, 2016 Korry Garvey rated it liked it
I liked this book because it was Canadian and about a young woman and about the bush. I identify with those things well. But while reading I got the vibe that the author was going for some feminist stuff, and it just really wasn't working out. Maybe because it was written in the 80s and I am a millennial influenced by the feminism of today, I just felt like she was trying to go for something super feminist and then certain weird things would happen that were super unrealistic and it just devalue ...more
Dec 18, 2013 Gabi rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books which have stuck with me for ages. I must have read it first when I was in my teens (which means at least 30 years ago), and since then probably a dozen times. Everything: the format, the plot, the setting, the characters, the narration style, everything is just fresh and interesting, and it has beautiful moments. Whenever I pick up this book, I can't put it down until I'm through with it. For me, it's a winner.
Feb 27, 2015 Michelle rated it liked it
This is beautifully written and engrossing; I was on the edge of my seat expecting a climactic event more devastating than what actually occurred, given the continual references to a Biblical account of someone being killed.
Gord Higginson
May 17, 2011 Gord Higginson rated it it was amazing
I read this novel a quarter of a century ago and I still remember swaths of it...fascinating tale, evoking the Biblical story of Ja-el.
Blackwell Boyce
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May 02, 2015
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Feb 08, 2014
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Sep 25, 2011
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Mar 08, 2016
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Jun 02, 2013
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Mar 30, 2009
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Jan 24, 2013
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Morgan Pryce rated it it was amazing
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Jul 01, 2009
Aurora McClennan
Apr 13, 2017 Aurora McClennan rated it really liked it
I read this book as an English project a few months ago. Being it was assigned to us, I was very nervous of what to expect, but I found myself completely entranced by the realism and fantasy of this story. The characters are all very interesting, each with their own backstory and thoughts, each given a few chapters here and there to show what they think. Van Herk's mirroring of the story of Jael is so intriguing, how she uses the biblical story and reimagines it in such a unique circumstance is ...more
outdoortype rated it liked it
Mar 19, 2012
Joanne Allen
Joanne Allen rated it it was ok
Aug 05, 2007
Ryan rated it it was amazing
Dec 21, 2015
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Kathryn Jennex rated it liked it
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Dec 15, 2012
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Aritha van Herk is universally recognized as one of Canada’s most original and imaginative writers. She is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books. She is a passionate lover, critic and devourer of all aspects of Calgary, from its unpredictable history to its unfulfilled potential.
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