Historical Fictionistas discussion

91 views
Group Read Discussions > July 2016 The Orenda - Spoilers Allowed

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Becky, Moddess (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) | 3416 comments Mod
Spoilers ok, but remember to uncheck the add to update feed box!


message 2: by Eryn (new)

Eryn Aching to get this rolling. Where to start? What a magnificent Novel.

The bird cover is so mailable- which central character do you believe it most depicts?


message 3: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Schanfield | 27 comments I read this a year or two ago, when it was a Canada Reads book. It overwhelmed me then with its depiction of the world of the Huron and Iroquois, which was full of beauty and nobility and savagery.

The author does an amazing job of recreating a vanished culture, though in doing a little background reading I found that some of Boyden's depictions are not considered accurate by scholars. That Bird would adopt Snow Falls, for example, would have been unlikely. Apparently, the culture has matrilineal aspects, and a Wendat woman would have had to adopt her into the clan.

Be that as it may, the development of the relationship between Bird and Snow Falls is powerfully portrayed. Bowden endows his characters with deep humanity, especially Bird, whose intimate talks with his dead wife are so tender and touching, and they stand in such contrast to the cruel torture he is able to inflict, "caressing his enemies with coals," as it's put. Even then he shows admiration, almost compassion, for his victims.

Equally powerful is Snow Falls' transformation from unwilling captive to one who doesn't feel she belongs to her birth clan or the one she is forcefully adopted into, until faced with a choice between them. She also has a very deep connection to her dead father, which she struggles with as she comes to love Bird as much as he.

The physical setting, the forest and the "sweet water" sea and the Wendat village, the whole world the book conjures, is irresistible. Some of the customs I found incredibly moving, like the way the people dug up their dead to say good-bye to them as they were leaving their old village. That particular scene is told from Crow's point of view, and it showed the conflict the Jesuit had begun to feel about those he had come to convert, his growing admiration for the people as he had found them rather than as the Christians he hopes they will become. The world Crow represents is much less attractive than the Wendat one.

There's also an element of magical realism, or mysticism, or the sense that another world of spirits and gods is so much with the Wendat, so much more real, in a way, than Crow's Christian faith.

I recommend the superb audiobook, which I chose for the second reading. The voices of Bird and Snow Falls mesmerized me. Less so the reader who portrayed Crow.


message 4: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah I am about half way though and just read the chapter "The Caressing ". It was hard to read, but Boyden's writing is so compelling that I could not stop. I just wonder how is it possible for anyone to be tortured like that and not cry out? Bird mentions the captives putting themselves in a trance. This must have been the case.


message 5: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 69 comments I am about two thirds done, and I find myself slowing down because I don't want to finish it. The whole atmosphere of the story has enveloped me in such a way that when I pick the book up to read, I am very literally (pun intended) put into a different time and place, with people who are ancient, and yet who are as real as my neighbors. Bird is especially real for me... what an incredible character he is. How I am able to relate to a 17th century male Huron native is testament to Boyden's skill and empathic writing.

Gosling is another fascinating character. She is the antithesis of Crow, and yet they represent the same thing -- special relationship with Spirit in order to help relieve suffering and confusion.


message 6: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Schanfield | 27 comments Janice(JG) wrote: "Gosling is another fascinating character. She is the antithesis of Crow, and yet they represent the same thing -- special relationship with Spirit in order to help relieve suffering and confusion ..."

I love her, too, especially the way she is comfortable being an outsider among the Wendat. A wonderfully strong woman.


message 7: by Susan (last edited Aug 01, 2016 07:40AM) (new)

Susan (susanconder) | 45 comments Back to Eryn's question about the cover,

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

I think it represents all 3 point of view characters, the bird could be Christophe Crow or Snow Falls' raven, and the warrior face is Bird.


message 8: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) | 69 comments Susan wrote: "Back to Eryn's question about the cover,

I think it represents all 3 point of view characters, the bird could be Christophe Crow or Snow Falls' raven, and the warrior face is Bird...."


Yes, excellent - I forgot about Snow Falls' raven. Wherever I take the book, people ask me about the cover.


message 9: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Schanfield | 27 comments Janice(JG) wrote: "Susan wrote: "
Wherever I take the book, people ask me about the cover."


I had the same experience.


message 10: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Schanfield | 27 comments Susan wrote: "Back to Eryn's question about the cover,

The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

I think it represents all 3 point of view characters, the bird could be Christophe Crow or Snow Falls' raven, and the war..."


Yes!


message 11: by Jalilah (last edited Aug 22, 2016 06:01AM) (new)

Jalilah I also loved this book and like others here felt totally transported!
Here is my review https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
.
Because the torture scenes are so graphic I don't think I'd read this again. But it certainly made a great impression on me! Who knows maybe I will re-read and skip the torture scenes!


message 12: by Pam (new)

Pam Walker | 12 comments This was the first HF group read for me and what a read it was.
Written with compassion and tenderness, but with such harrowing descriptions of cruelty, this is one of the most intense books I have ever read and most definitely falls into my top ten of all time
It left me with a sadness that this was all about revenge, and there was no place for forgiveness or reconciliation between the two warring tribes.
Thanks to all those who voted for this book and introduced me to a new author I’d never read before. I’m looking forward to reading some more of this talented writer’s work.


message 13: by Laura (new)

Laura | 9 comments I am behind on my reading, but just finished this! One of the reasons I truly enjoy this group is that I have picked up books that I wouldn't have otherwise. "The Orenda" was truly amazing. I really felt for all three, Christophe, Bird, and Snow Falls and the depiction of the Huron, Jesuits, and nature were beautiful. There were many subtle philosophical ideas that are or should be present in our times too. A great and thought provoking read.


message 14: by Joy D (new)

Joy D I read this one but hadn't posted my review on this site:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


back to top