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Last Crossing, The (Frontier trilogy)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  2,429 Ratings  ·  210 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Joe S
Dec 05, 2007 Joe S rated it did not like it  ·  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
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
Feb 23, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Feb 10, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 04, 2013 Dyana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2012 Marsha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Marjorie DeLuca
Sep 02, 2013 Marjorie DeLuca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 11, 2013 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2010 Rebecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worst
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
Sep 21, 2011 Kendra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really liked reading The Last Crossing. It has to be described as an epic, because it is the story of a nation, boiled down into the lives of four central narrators. Through their eyes, we see the creation of a nation, the wars and violence, the uncomfortable mixture of cultures, the travel, the hardship and love. These are big themes, but Vanderhaeghe does an excellent job of crafting an exciting tale, the search for a brother in the wilderness. It's also quite an accomplishment to su ...more
Colleen Foster
Jul 08, 2016 Colleen Foster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Vanderhaeghe has such a talent for writing vastly different characters while making them equally fascinating, equally worthy of having his or her own story told. Everyone in this novel is interesting and even those few despicable individuals still manage to draw you in and make you care about them before the end. The only one I was unsure of was the man the novel starts with, but by the final chapters, he has emerged as a worthy, complex, beat-down, raised-up, hero. Strange to say it of ...more
Dec 27, 2007 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I'm just looking for excuses to get to some of the good books I got for Christmas... but I don't think so. I'm giving
this up after 2 short chapters. The cover claims the author's won writing awards, but the writing is jarringly bad.

"The glaring light stabbed thorns in her eyes; they streamed with tears. What she was straining to see could not be a vision; visions were given freely to her. This seemed to be a thing of the earth, but very strange. She hurried on.".

Despite the fact that her
Deborah Wellum
I picked this book up while on vacation and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great cast of characters with interesting, intersecting lives. Got a little lost in the battles but I'll say no more about that. I would have to say that it was a very satisfying ending.
Jul 13, 2014 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 01, 2014 Tyler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have never NOT finished a book. But, there are exceptions to every rule—this book was it.

Other than a few quotes that are sticking with me, this book was insufferable. I couldn't bring myself to read all of it. It was repetitive and the characters unlikeable.

I want to give it two stars because I know many people that love this book, maybe someday I'll join that demographic, but not today
Apr 15, 2016 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler) ...more
Jun 24, 2010 Val rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Even though the premise of two English brothers searching for their other brother in the wilds of North America in the 1870's sounds to be great subject matter, I found this book to be an extremely boring read and could not wait to be finished with it. Along with the boring writing, I did not find the characters especially interesting or believable.
Gail Richmond
Mar 22, 2016 Gail Richmond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent study of characters drawn from the British elite of the mid to late 19th century as well as the pioneers and Native Americans and Native Canadians of the last of the open plains pioneers.... Not settlers, but traders and hunters.

Set in Fort Benton, Montana and the land northwest of there to Fort Edmonton, two British gentlemen seek their missionary brother who left England to proselytize and convert the "heathen" to Christianity. In the process of finding Simon, the brothers, often at
Sue Myers
Charles Gault is financed by his tyrannical father to search for his brother Simon, missing in the American West. Vanderhaeghe is a master of description; his descriptions of the scenery in the American West are positively delicious. This book has a cast of characters that runs the gamut of all that is good, bad and stereotypical-Native Americans, half-breeds, fallen women, mountain men, entitled Englishmen, and bullies. There are several surprises at the end; do not read on if you plan on readi ...more
May 26, 2014 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2015 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe bites off a significant chunk of Canadian history: the intrusion of American whisky traders north of the 49th parallel in the years immediately following the U.S. Civil War and Canadian Confederation. None of what ultimately led to the formation of the Northwest Mounted Police (RCMP), a very different pattern of settlement from the American frontier, and a less confrontational co-existence with prairie First Nations was ignored by Vanderhaeghe, but neither w ...more
Michael Dalton
Jul 10, 2016 Michael Dalton rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jun 10, 2014 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Ron Charles
Dec 05, 2013 Ron Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 06, 2008 Valerie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
More about Guy Vanderhaeghe...

Other Books in the Series

Frontier trilogy (3 books)
  • The Englishman's Boy
  • A Good Man

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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
“Not to do as the child wishes would be wrong because he is born on a path, and it would be evil, a crime against nature to make him deny his spirit.” 1 likes
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