Thursday 13 December 2007

Canadian Novel

Finished December 11
The Horseman's Graves by Jacqueline Baker
This novel is set in the rural area of the Sand Hills on the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta. Most of the members of the community are Russian-German and the church is a part of their lives, but farming is what their lives are about. Some of the community has brought prejudices and myths from the old country and that determines how they feel about some of their neighbours.
The Krauss family is one that was known as being mean in the old country and retains that designation in their new home. Their nearest neighbours, the Schoffs, were at first patient, but had less and less to do with the Krauss's as time went on. By the time the next generation had taken over the farms, they didn't talk to each unless necessary. When tragedy visits the Schoffs, culminating in the terrible accident marking their son, the Schoffs withdraw further from the community. The Schoff's hired hand, Lathias, becomes unofficial guardian of the boy, telling him the myths of the new land, and watching out for his welfare. When a young woman, Elizabeth, joins the Krauss household both Lathias and the boy are drawn to her and the three spend time together until another tragedy occurs, this time to Elizabeth. This destructs the Schoff's even further and affects the community as a whole.
A fascinating tale, with strong and deep characters marked by their surroundings.

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