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The Tenderness of Wolves
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Penny | 680 comments Mod
Here is our archive book - from back around 2006/07.

message 2: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val Has anyone started reading this one?

message 3: by TrudyAn (new)

TrudyAn I have ordered it from the library; it's in transit, so hopefully will be here soon.

message 4: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Haider (jessicahaider) | 155 comments Mod
FYI. When acceding this topic from my the goodreads app on my iPhone I can't see the book image so can't tell why's book is being discussed. It's a known goodreads bug so you may want to post the title in addition to the cover. :)

message 5: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Haider (jessicahaider) | 155 comments Mod
Sorry for the triple post. Feel free to delete the duplicates. :)

message 6: by JenniferD (last edited Nov 06, 2014 02:37PM) (new)

JenniferD (jooniperd) | 343 comments yes, we talked about that bug some place else around here, jessica. it is definitely a frustration for so many people, and doesn't seem to be high on their list of fixes.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Jessica wrote: "FYI. When acceding this topic from my the goodreads app on my iPhone I can't see the book image so can't tell why's book is being discussed. It's a known goodreads bug so you may want to post the t..."

Hi Jessica - not sure where the change needs to be made - I dont use the app but if you tell me what would help you see the right discussion title I will try to make it easier - at present it lists the cover and the title at the top and in the discussion name.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
I have read this book twice - anyone else read it? I had about a 5 year gap in reading it and my response to it was quite different second time round! I rarely read books more than once but this one was worth the read.

message 9: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I added the book title to the discussion title when I saw Jessica's post, Penny. We do usually include it as well as the links, but we missed it this time.

I missed reading this one when it came out. There was already a long list of reservations at the library and then I forgot to go back to it later.
I enjoyed it and I could see why it was popular.

message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) I have just got hold of a copy of this and am looking forward to it! Seems ideal to read as winter arrives.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Just adding in some pointers to think about.
Why is it called The Tenderness of Wolves? Was there really a moment of tenderness witnessed in the book with wolves? Or is she refering to certain people as “wolves”?

Was it more helpful or distracting to have so many characters and voices of narration?

What will life be like now for the Ross family? Will any of them be able to be happy? Have they learned anything from all of this?

message 12: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val Good questions Penny.
I think the 'wolves' of the title are probably people, and also may refer to the way their behaviour in the wilderness is different from in the settlements. Caged wolves do not behave like wild ones. The 'tenderness' is somewhat ironic (wolves are not renowned for it).

There are a lot of characters and points of view. It helped to get across an overall story, because not everyone was present at each place and none of them know all of it. Some of the characters and their back stories were resolved; others, which looked important, were not, so it was sometimes confusing to know who and what about them we needed to remember.

I think I will leave the last question for now, until more people have read the book.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
There is a fine line between single viewpoint - and the dullness or lack of empathy that may come from this - or too many viewpoints and the reader losing interest in some of the less central characters - I felt the author did a good job here, even more so as the book progressed.

message 14: by Val (last edited Nov 21, 2014 12:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I agree that she does handle her characters well, they remain distinct, although there are a lot of them. I think I might have to read the book again in a few years.

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Just to keep me on the ball I have ordered the audio of this - so third time through when it comes. I was so surprised by how different my response was the second time of reading it - so will see how it translates to audio.

Apparently the author had never been to Canada when she wrote this - how do you do that? A book that has such an overwhelming sense of place and the author has created that without going there!

message 16: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val I don't think she would have shown Canada in quite the same way if she had been there. It seemed more like an imagined place than an experienced one, an idea of wilderness. There is the fact that it is a historical setting, not present day Canada of course, so she would have had to use her imagination anyway.

message 17: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) I've now started this and am really enjoying it so far. At the moment I'm enjoying the multiple viewpoints. It was interesting early on to have Mrs Ross's thoughts on the reasons for another character's actions, then see through his eyes and discover she was mistaken.

Interesting comments here - thanks for the thoughts, Penny and Val. I am finding the landscapes and atmosphere vividly described. You can almost feel the cold as you read!

message 18: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) I'm a little over halfway now and am loving it. I noticed that some reviews say the heroine doesn't have a first name and is just Mrs Ross, but I notice she drops a hint that her name is Lucie - saying the pet dog's name is 'a coincidence'. I'm thinking of her as Lucie, anyway. :)

message 19: by TrudyAn (new)

TrudyAn I was the person who nominated this book for November. I placed an inter-library hold in mid-October, with two copies apparently available, fully expecting to have the book in hand by November 1. The library service is normally excellent. Well, ithe book still isn't here, and the library doesn't know where it went. Reading all of the comments here has made me anxious to read it! So, I am going to try to find a copy to buy, and I am sorry that I was not able to participate in the discussion here.

message 20: by Penny (last edited Dec 06, 2014 11:44AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Not to worry Trudy - we will still be happy to hear your thoughts.

I am listening to this in the car - having already read it twice. I am again quite easily drawn into this insular community around Dove River. The various threads do need to be kept clear in your head as there are quite a few - Mrs Ross and Frank, and what is Angus up to? Sturrock and McKinley, Moody and Knox, and then of course the Field of Heaven. It does take concentration but I am taken in again. Mrs Ross is so real to me - her isolation, being misunderstood, her wish to be a warm caring person but not knowing how.

What does everyone think of Lena? (I'm not sure of the spelling of some of the names as I have only the audio this time)

message 21: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) I've now finished this book and really liked it. I do agree with you, Penny, that it needs concentration to keep track of the various threads.

I didn't really like Line because she was so irresponsible towards her children, but I did feel for her when she suffers so much.

The edition I was reading had a short interview with Stef Penney at the end, and I was interested to see that Mrs Ross was partly drawn from her own experience suffering from agoraphobia, as she wondered how someone with the same condition would have been treated in those days. I was also interested to see that she is an experienced screenwriter, since the book is so vivid visually - I kept thinking that it ought to be filmed.

message 22: by Judy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) On the questions, I enjoyed the different voices and felt they helped to keep up the book's momentum. Penny, that is a good idea of yours about the 'wolves' of the title being people.

Still thinking over the question about the Ross family - but I do think there is a suggestion of hope for them.

Janine | 80 comments I'm finally making progress with this book. I've had to wait a while to receive books for November, so am quite behind everyone. The title actually put me off a bit, but I opted to delve in after reading more about the story.

It took me a while to get into the swing of the story. So many thoughts and strands that seemed to build the characters but initially detracted from the story line. I don't mind the different voices, I just found it tricky to get into the flow of it. And it took a while to remember who was who.

I've just reached 'The Fields of Heaven' - so still a way to go. I'm now familiar with the characters and starting to enjoy the mystery, and the gradual discovery of new information towards understanding what happened to Laurent.

Sometimes it feels like there are particularly modern views imposed on a late 1860s era. But then I wondered if we're seeing Dove River through the eyes of the most progressive of the residents - Knox, Moody and Mrs Ross. For a small, insular community in 1867, they all seem very progressive in their views on race, gender, animal welfare and justice... (more progressive than some people in 2014).

message 24: by Val (new) - rated it 3 stars

Val That is a good point about the enlightened attitudes shown by several characters in the book. There would have some progressive people, but reactionary attitudes would have been quite usual and acceptable at the time.
I think we can accept that these particular characters are more progressive than average for the nineteenth century in the context of the book, as the author gives them unusual backgrounds or personal circumstances which could account for them.

message 25: by Janine (last edited Dec 10, 2014 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Janine | 80 comments I've reached 'The Winter Partners' section in the book. This far into the book, I'm really drawn in to the characters and to the story. Ends are being kept open, which makes an effective mystery.

I was interested by Judy's comments about the interview with the author and the link between her agrophobia and the character of Mrs Ross. As I've read through the 'The Fields of Heaven', I agree with Judy. Mrs Ross is overcoming her fear of the wilderness, finding a new comfort in the forest and then fearful of the wide open plains. But she doesn't overcome her fears for herself, it's out of love for her son (however difficult she might have found it to express this love directly to him). (view spoiler)

Penny | 680 comments Mod
I found even more to this third time round. I find audio is quite different from reading in the emphasis that I end up giving to phrases and tones. I think for me there are snippets all the way through the book that are sparing yet revealing of the characters and their abilities or lack of them. Each character is opened up quite slowly - particularly Mrs Ross, so that by the end you do feel you have been on a journey with these people.
Considering whether the people are wolves or whether tenderness comes from unlikely sources - each person could be a wolf or a 'tenderness' depending whose point of view you are looking at them with. For instance, Mrs Ross is seen as stand-offish and rather superior amongst some of the other women and yet her tenderness - almost her fierce tenderness - drives her out into the snowy wilderness that is such a fear for her. Donald is almost too tender - he is totally out of depth - yet to Francis he seems solid and immovable at the Field of Heaven. Francis himself shows great tenderness and understanding in passing on Laurent's money to Line. Yet he shows steel in his character by charging off after the murderer. Maria too has both sides to her character - I'm not sure anyone is a true wolf apart from Stewart.

What did you all think of Mr Knox and what happens between him and Elizabeth? That was so well written - allowing the reader to really feel both points of view. How desperate the father was and yet how much he messed up the meeting.
I found the changing POVs worked well in this one - unlike in All the Birds singing where I havent a clue who/what/where the narrative is - even on the audio it was clear who was speaking. Do you think some of their problems in Dove River and Caulfield were not only from the Victorian era but also being Scottish? I mean, its a bit of a stereotype, but Scots are not renowned for being overly-demonstrative or emotional but you'd certainly want them around in a crisis!! So Donald cant express himself, Mr and Mrs Ross have come to an impasse in their marriage, Mr Knox cant reach out to his daughter. Maybe the cold and the isolation of it all froze their relationships!!!!

Janine | 80 comments I've finished the book now and I really enjoyed it. Good amount of intrigue and mystery through to the end (and on multiple levels).

So now I'm at the end, I've given further thought to your questions, Penny (which are really good).

Why the 'tenderness of wolves'? My thinking on this question (and I didn't read other responses till finishing the book) was that the seeming 'wolves' in the story - (view spoiler) particularly - were actually full of tenderness. And the wolf in the end was someone who on first appearances (as Mrs Ross described him) appeared trustworthy. Then I also wondered if it was a metaphor for the Indians in the story, both individuals and communities - (view spoiler). Yet the Indians were often tender - eg. in their rescue of Elizabeth, Jacob's protection of Donald, etc. And on the other hand, so many of the 'whites' were the opposite of tender - Mackinley, Stewart, Scott, etc..

Now that I've read other comments in response to this question, they also make perfect sense too! So I'm not sure what the author had in mind with the title.

The multiple points of view question - I did comment on that earlier, and in the end (once the characters were developed) I thought this worked really effectively.

As for the outcomes for the Ross family... (view spoiler)

The other notable oucome was with the Setons - (view spoiler)

As for Penny's comment about the Scottish... While I have some Scottish heritage, I'm Australian and not exposed enough to really have an opinion. But I think there are some sections of the Australian community who display similar traits of emotional restraint, yet despite their steeliness would be the ones you'd want around in a crisis!

Penny | 680 comments Mod
Very interesting thoughts Janine - particularly agree with you over the Ross family - I think and hope that they can show greater love for each other after all this.
I'm surprised by how much I still gained from listening to this for the third time - there were so many layers, so much atmosphere and convoluted relationships that it withstood the re-reads very well.

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