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Last Crossing, The (Frontier trilogy)

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  1,893 ratings  ·  188 reviews

This epic tale sweeps across continents and time, hovers over a key area in American History, and deftly realizes the humanity of a whole cast of characters. Charles and Addington are two brothers sent from the comforts of Victorian England by their dictatorial father to find Simon, a brother missing somewhere in the depths of the American West. As Charles, a sensitive pai
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Published December 31st 2007 by Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (first published 2002)
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Michael
I found this a highly satisfying tale of the cultural clash and personal transformations that occur when two brothers from Victorian England go on a quest to the mountain West of the U.S. and Canada to find their missing brother, who disappeared on a mission to convert the Indians in the Montana territory of 1871. For a tragicomedy at the turning point of the taming of the frontier, this does not attain the heights of McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove”, but it taps the same vein of pleasure.

The ensembl
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Joe S
Dec 05, 2007 Joe S rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Annie Proulx, I guess
Shelves: novels
This book has everything you need to make a historical novel suck. And not just moderate, forgivable sucking, but full-on golf ball through a garden hose suckage. Painstaking, ubiquitous research that adds nothing; language so stilted it topples off the page; unbelievable characters doing ludicrous things, but doing them -- importantly -- in period costume; overwrought British-accent narrative musings stretching to find some justifying meaning in the assinine shit-chimp plot.

Also, a glowing cove
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Adela Bezemer-Cleverley
I have so much to say about this book but I don't know how much I'll be able to articulate clearly, because I'm in a weird emotional spot due to the book and other things happening...

This is the first Vanderhaeghe I've read, and I have to read more, because he is absolutely brilliant (I seriously need to find a new word). This book draws you right in and throws you into a journey of discovery, disappointment, and moments of clarity and beauty that just can't be described. I started to have this
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Michael
This book is a slow read, and I think deliciously so.

With shifting narrators come varying language styles, perceptions, values, hopes, dreams, and this is the way a reader comes to know the characters. The temptation many times is to actually read the page out loud, to savor the dialects and crawl inside the hearts of the speakers.

True enough, this slows down the pace of the action. The plotline itself is elegantly simple: a certain group of people set off on an adventure into the wilderness, ea
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Erin
Of the many things I enjoyed about Guy Vanderhaeghe's *The Last Crossing* I most enjoyed his use of narrative voice. The book moves between characters third person limited perspective with delineated sections for each and in ways that allows the same event to be experienced "differently" by the reader as it is shown from a different voice. This narration is particularly appropriate in that this book, set in the 1860s in the (eventual) American and Canadian northwest, is historical fiction: a gen ...more
Tony
I see the reader below me gave this book one star. He is an idiot. This is one of the best books I read in 2013, hands down (perhaps only behind Mitchell's 1000 Autumns). I have a hard time summarizing it's greatness, but I will try. To begin with, the plot and characters are extremely compelling. Charles and Addington Gaunt are wealthy Englishmen sent to the New World by their controlling father to find their lost brother Simon, who has disappeared on a Christian mission. Charles and Addington ...more
Marsha
My husband has been telling me that I should read Guy Vanderhaeghe's books, but of course, he's the last one I ever listen to about books. However, I suggested this excellent book to my book group and was fascinated by the wonderful writing, finely developed characters and a thoroughly engrossing plot. Mr. Vanderhaeghe is a fabulous storyteller and this one set in 1870s Montana and the Whoop-Up Country of southern Canada is a beauty.

The novel travels with its main character from England to Fort
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Lauren
I liked this book quite a bit, despite its bearing a cover photo taken by Edward S. Curtis and a jacket summary that uses silly words like "frontier", "American West" and "epic masterpiece". Vanderhaeghe writes a pleasant portrait that moves in and out of what Frederick Jackson Turner called the "death of the frontier" in 1896, both affirming the status of the frontier and undermining the reader's assumption about what constituted the frontier as a space in the first place. That ambiguity alone ...more
Marjorie DeLuca
I loved Vanderhaeghe masterpiece, "The Englishman's Boy" and expected great things when I picked up "The Last Crossing". I wasn't disappointed. This sweeping, epic narrative highlights a setting rarely featured in novels about the Wild West. I'm talking specifically about the US-Canadian borderlands between Fort Benton, Montana and Fort Whoop Up, Alberta. Aptly named since it was a trading post that specialized in trading illegal whisky with the local Indian tribes.
Vanderhaeghe tells the story o
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James
In the The Last Crossing, Guy Vanderhaeghe leads the reader across the Atlantic Ocean from the grimy, smoky streets of London to the great American West, to the vast prairie fields and the isolated outposts of colonial settlers amidst the retreating Plains Indians. Two Englishmen are sent to find their missing brother and must journey across the American and Canadian West to find him. They are joined by a motley crew of individuals: a half-Scottish, half-Blackfoot guide, a Civil War veteran, a t ...more
William
A most enjoyable read. Well written and put together story of the wild North West of Canada and the US in the 1870s. The characters were very believable and the geographic details were excellent. I like how the author integrated the actual history of the area with the fictional story. His description of the various different ethnic groups (English, Americans, Indians, Metis, Mixed Race) were neither derogatory nor flattering. The books moves back and forth between time, location and character vi ...more
Jim Puskas
I didn't really begin to appreciate this book until I was nearly 300 pages into it; fortunately, I stuck with it and was rewarded with what in the end turned out to be a great story.
My difficulty in the beginning was Vanderhaeghe's method of relating the story -- by constantly changing narrators from one character to another. It's impossible to determine who the real central character is. Virtually every one of his main characters has a few turns at it and I found it difficult to really latch on
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Katie
I read this book because my dad liked it and it is about Western Canada. It was a gripping story about two Englishmen searching Northern Montana and Alberta for their brother who went missing trying to convert the native people. It was a mix up of old west, proper Englishmen, Indian cultures, and psychopaths. I was very into it, but kind of wish that the end was fleshed out a bit more. I found the characters and setting very interesting. It didn't have a map included which I found annoying.
Dyana
This was NOT a light fast read. No kidding - I had to carry a dictionary around with me while reading this book - learned alot of new words like encomium, fice, destrier, peroration, toxophilite, etc. This was an adventure story about two English brothers ordered by their father to travel to the North American wilderness of Montana in the 1870's to find a third brother, Simon, who has disappeared and feared killed by Indians. Addington Gaunt, an insufferable disgraced military captain, leads the ...more
Allegra Young
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe was a tougher read for me. Now, I don't know whether it was because I was busy and didn't have a chance to pick it up more than I normally would, but I find even in that case if I'm enjoying a book enough, I'll make time for it. I think when you're not reading books that you have explicitly chosen, they can differ so greatly from one another that it's hard to go from one voice to another right away. I had just finished Clara Callan which was written so simpl ...more
Ron Charles
To Americans, a bestseller in Canada is like a tree falling in the forest. Unless it's written by Margaret Atwood, they don't hear it and it doesn't exist. A beautiful novel by Francis Itani followed that parochial rule last fall. No. 1 in Canada, "Deafening" barely made a sound on the other side of the border. This baffling literary disconnect between the world's two most connected nations is about to be tested again. Guy Vanderhaeghe's "The Last Crossing" was selected as one of the best books ...more
Valerie
In the late 19th century, a young English idealist and romanticist, Simon Guant, pursues his notion of seeing a truly natural land. His destination is the Indian territories in unsettled regions of the United States and Canada. When he disappears, his despotic father dispatches Simon’s twin, Charles, and his strange and cruel older brother, Addington, to find their lost sibling. Charles and Addington arrive at the fort where Simon was last seen. There they encounter the rest of this adventure’s ...more
Ursula Pflug
This review first appeared in The Peterbrough Examiner in December 2003.


THE LAST CROSSING
by Guy Vanderhaeghe
McClelland & Stewart
400 pages
$19.54

Review by Ursula Pflug
465 words

Not as well known a writer as, say, Atwood or Ondaatje or MacDonald, the sumptuousness of Guy Vanderhaeghe’s prose begs the question: why has this Saskatoon based novelist never won a Booker or a Giller, like his Toronto fellows? His 1982 story collection, Man Descending, and his 1996 novel The Englishman’s Boy, each w
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Marike
The lasst crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe

Historical fiction set in the era shortly after the Civil War in the USA in frontier Western landscape. I can see that this is an epic novel, and great in how it engages with issues of the day that are still pertinent today, the way a different time is brought forward in a gritty way and at the same time employing a style of telling that sounds very much like the narrative style of the era.

The story opens with Charles Guant receiving a letter from the Ameri
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Ellen
If all novels were written like this one-- no one would ever know a bad book. This novel by Guy Vanderhaeghe is a supreme work about bare bones people, expanses of wild land, and gritty, tenacious characters who battle for identity and place in the world. He captures the haughty cowardice of English gentry with Addington Grant's character-- who slowly looses his grip on reality and ends it all in a tango of death with a grizzly bear. Jerry Potts, scout-- the man of mixed ancestry--half white and ...more
rabbitprincess
Sep 02, 2009 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoyed "The Outlander" by Gil Adamson
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Jim Cuddy
CBC put together a fine crew to read this book for "Between the Covers". Through the actors' reading I was able to better appreciate Guy Vanderhaeghe's wonderfully descriptive writing, for example Lucy's dream. His ability to capture different voices was also broadcast to great effect here. Custis spoke differently than Lucy, who differed from Dooley, who of course differed from Charles. I also thought it kind of funny that whenever any of the other narrators had to quote dialogue spoken by Char ...more
Eric Wright
Guy Vanderhaeghe, The Last Crossing. Their imperious father sends Charles and Addington Gaunt off to the wilds of the American West in search of their brother, Simon. Beguiled by a crackpot cultic preacher, Simon has followed him to America in high hopes of converted the heathen. But Simon has disappeared.

The tale is told by alternating voices: Addington, domineering, Charles, sympathetic and moralistic, Lucy Stoveall, a lovely woman seeking revenge for the murder of her sister, Simon, idealitic
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Carinya Kappler
This is an unusual adventure story told with wonderful colour and excitement. The author uses the wilds of early America and Canada as the setting for his epic. The mix of aristocrats, roughneck pioneers and desperados forms an unlikely band of travelers, temporarily united in the realization of their separate goals. Each person is fighting his internal set of demons while contending with various levels of guilt, blame and hatred.
The leader of the party, Addington Gaunt, an Englishman, in searc
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Mike
A mix of True Grit, Annie Proulx' western fiction, James Welch, and Ivan Doig. Very entertaining and full of enjoyable digressions from the main story. Custis Straw's Civil War memories were amazing. He was a secondary character who the author took the time to flesh out admirably (even if his memories are difficult to stomach at times). Lucy Stoveall and Jerry Potts were other secondary characters who were drawn quite well. (Potts was a real person)

My only misgivings have to with the English pa
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Rose
Picked this book up in a flea market in Yale, BC while travelling from the Coast to the Interior of BC on the old Highways. I started the story as we passed through towns on the old Highway like Boston Bar, Lillooet, and Cache Creek etc. It certainly opened my mind up to the difficulties faced by anyone traversing BC on horseback and wagon. Overall a bit of a slow read at times but a story that is believable, brutal at times and descriptive.
Jennifer
This is a story of English brothers who come to America to find their wayward
brother, Simon. The older brother, Addington, is more concerned about how he
looks to the world and his sidekick writer, Ayto. Charles, the twin brother of
Simon, is more grounded and filled with real concern for his missing twin. They
hire a half-breed scout - Jerry Potts to assist in the hunt and are joined by a
woman - Lucy Stovall - seeking her sister's killers and Custis who is in love
with Miss Lucy and wants to brin
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Rebecca
I read this book during a Canadian Novel course in university and I must say, not one of our prouder moments as a country.

This novel bored me to death. I have never fallen asleep so many times trying to read a book. I understand that the drawn out nature of the plot line is in direct reference to the idea that the trip the characters are taking is a long and cumbersome one but wow. I could not keep with it. After reading ten pages, it felt like two hundred. I cant even say for sure if I finished
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Ebirdy
This book was good but not great. I found the dialogue for the English characters far-fetched. The other characters seemed much more realistic. Everything was pretty neatly wrapped up at the end for those who like books like that. It's not really about one character more than another; there are several story lines that weave through the book.

Some of the facts that Vanderhaeghe revealed about Indian life and life on the plains in that era and area were very interesting. I had never heard about a
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Lauren
This book is incredibly boring. I had no reason to like any of these cliche but flawed characters, who kept bad decisions I didn't care about. After a long, slow journey with these awful characters, I took away nothing from the end. There is no message, just a series of pointless actions.

I gave it an extra star because I save one star books for books that leave me with a burning, fiery hate. This book was too ingloriously dull to even hate.
Annette
This book, the winner of the Canada Reads award http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/ is set in 1870's wilds of northern Montana and Canada's bordering Northwest Territories. The historical novel brings a story of three very different English brothers; a diseased and demonic ex-army officer, his artistic younger brother, and the latter's missing twin who is linked with a religious fanatic. Thrown into the search is an array of characters that include a Scottish tracker, an irish-American saloon o ...more
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98125
Guy Clarence Vanderhaeghe, OC, SOM is a Canadian fiction author.

Vanderhaeghe received his Bachelor of Arts degree with great distinction in 1971, High Honours in History in 1972 and Master of Arts in History in 1975, all from the University of Saskatchewan. In 1978 he received his Bachelor of Education with great distinction from the University of Regina. In 1973 he was Research Officer, Institute
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More about Guy Vanderhaeghe...

Other Books in the Series

Frontier trilogy (3 books)
  • The Englishman's Boy
  • A Good Man
The Englishman's Boy A Good Man Man Descending: Selected Stories Homesick My Present Age

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“It might be high summer all about but inside me everything is fall. The lonesomeness of a sad, slow closing of days, knowing frost is nigh and wind needling through the cabin chinks is just around the bend. That's me, right now.” 2 likes
“Do not follow your present course. It is a dead end. The dead end of the perfect English gentleman.” 0 likes
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