Summary and book reviews of The Outlander by Gil Adamson

The Outlander

By Gil Adamson

The Outlander
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2008,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2009,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

In 1903 a mysterious young woman flees alone across the West, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At nineteen, Mary Boulton has just become a widow—and her husband's killer. As bloodhounds track her frantic race toward the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two ruthless brothers-in-law are in pursuit, determined to avenge their younger brother's death. Responding to little more than the primitive fight for life, the widow retreats ever deeper into the wilderness—and into the wilds of her own mind—encountering an unforgettable cast of eccentrics along the way.

With the stunning prose and captivating mood of great works like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain or early Cormac McCarthy, Gil Adamson's intoxicating debut novel weds a brilliant literary style to the gripping tale of one woman's desperate escape.

Chapter One

It was night, and dogs came through the trees, unleashed and howling. They burst from the cover of the woods and their shadows swam across a moonlit field. For a moment, it was as if her scent had torn like a cobweb and blown on the wind, shreds of it here and there, useless. The dogs faltered and broke apart, yearning. Walking now, stiff-legged, they ploughed the grass with their heavy snouts.

Finally, the men appeared. They were wordless, exhausted from running with the dogs, huffing in the dark. First came the boy who owned the dogs, and then two men, side by side, massive redheads so close in appearance they might be twins. Dabs of firefly light drifted everywhere; the night was heavy with the smell of manure and flowering apple and pear. At last, the westernmost hound discovered a new direction, and dogs and men lurched on.

The girl scrambled through ditchwater and bulrushes, desperate to erase her scent. For a perilous moment she dared to stop running, to ...

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Introduction

In 1903 a mysterious young woman flees alone across the west, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At 19, she has just become a widow—and her husband's murderer. As bloodhounds track Mary Boulton through the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two cold-blooded brothers-in-law are hot on her trail, determined to hunt her down in revenge for their brother's death. Responding to little more than the primitive fight for life, she flees further and further into the wilderness, and into the wilds of her own mind, encountering an unforgettable cast of eccentrics along the way.

With the stunning prose and captivating mood of great works like Charles Frazier's Cold...
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Reviews

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Mary Boulton's intense psychological transformation is augmented by Adamson's crystalline prose. Nothing is too minuscule for Adamson's notice: the mud at the bottom edge of Mary's hem, the glint in the brothers-in-laws' animal-like eyes, the color of the sky, the smell of the trees. Each sentence and paragraph is worth the contemplation of any great poem. The pacing is deliberate and perfect. Adamson's dark, yet delicate descriptions take this story from mere western escape story to a gothic fairytale. Mary's deepening madness, complete with hallucinated ghosts, plus the spare elements of romance, add to this perception.   (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).

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Media Reviews
Quill & Quire

There are plenty of improbabilities in The Outlander, and yet it’s a great read. Adamson is an impressive stylist who knows how to keep an unlikely story moving at a swift and graceful pace.

The Toronto Star - Philip Marchand

Hearty breakfasts or not, normal lovemaking or not, the novel remains Gothic in tone, with many of the limitations of that genre, including starkly drawn characterization. We must not expect multi-faceted personalities in trolls and goblins. Because of its strong narrative line, however, and Adamson's (for the most part) true poet's eye for metaphors and details that work, The Outlanders is a superior example of the genre.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Lean prose, full-bodied characterization, memorable settings and scenes of hardship all lift this book above the pack.

Library Journal

Authentic historical details, a strong female character running for her life, and a murder-driven plot will appeal to fiction readers in all public libraries. Highly recommended.

Kirkus Reviews

A lovingly crafted novel.

Entertainment Weekly - Missy Schwartz

A riveting tale of a woman's thirst for freedom. A-.

Reader Reviews
Dr Neil

‘good ‘ doesn't do it justice
I have read many books on a variety of subjects. This over~70 retired psychologist has found this read to be a rich and satisfying feast. A richness and depth in this novel from such a youthful looking writer. I await Gil Adamsons next masterpiece ...   Read More

Sue

Satisfying
I've always been intrigued by stories of women who pick up and run away from their everyday lives, often bringing nothing with them from their old lives but the clothes they are wearing. Anne Tyler's "Ladder of Years" is a favorite. ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Frank Slide
Most of The Outlander is fictional, but the slide at Frank, which catastrophically plagues the closing third of the story, is based on the factual landslide at Frank, Alberta in 1903.

Frank, Alberta was a small Canadian mining outpost that was inaugurated as a town in 1901. On April 29, 1903, 74 million tons of limestone slid from the top of Turtle Mountain and blanketed nearly three-square kilometers of the valley floor. The slide removed the entire top of Turtle Mountain, dammed the Crowsnest River, which formed a lake, blocked the Canadian Pacific Railway, buried seven houses and other buildings near Frank, obliterated the majority of the mine's exterior infrastructure, and killed 70 people. ...

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