Saturday, 11 December 2010

Review: North of Fifty-Three

I just recently finished an old book that I had picked up at book fair about a year ago. It was nondescriptly titled North of Fifty-Three, and it was by Bertrand W. Sinclair. The cover intrigued me little more than than the title, and I imagined it to about some remote war with men as the most prominent characters (which, of course, is perfectly fine by me... when I'm in the mood!). Why I bought it I'll never know. Was I ever in for a pleasant surprise!

The story opens in a moderately sized city in Victorian Canada. The heroine, Miss Hazel Weir, is a young and blameless stenographer who seems to attract disgrace. Due to no fault of her own Hazel leaves her city for a teaching position in the untamed west. In Caribou Meadows Miss Weir is met with more ill reputed companions and one evening she tries to escape her own misfortunes by a walk in the beautiful wood. Just as the heroine has reached some degree of peace, night unexpectedly falls and she is lost and alone in the great wilderness. Wandering in vain, she stumbles upon a man she learned of in Caribou Meadows, a man completely unlike she has ever ween before; Roaring Bill Wagstaff. Bill Wagstaff offers to take her home the next day and Hazel is forced to comply. The following few days they spend in trying to find the town and finally Hazel grows impatient with her guide and demands why they are not "finding" the settlement. Bill Wagstaff replies simply that he is taking her to his home. Of course the poor heroine vows to hate her kidnapper for life and reluctantly finds this difficult as she sees how honourable and good he is. The harsh winter climate determines that she will have to spend several months with her captor, and in the spring she demands that she be delivered unto civilization once again. On the way he saves her life, tells her he loves her and asks her to marry him. She refuses even though she finds to her horror that she doesn't want to. 
Reunited with some old friends Hazel prepares to go back to Granville, on the train east our heroine discovers that she left the only person she loves in the Canadian wilderness. So Miss Weir hurries back to the little cabin and Hazel and Bill are married. The story could end there but it doesn't! The reader is lead along a winding trail of happiness, heartache and gold mines before a most satisfying finish.

This was a wonderful book and very well written, I would encourage anyone who likes a great romance or adventure story to find and read this obscure gem! Happy reading! 

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