This Godforsaken Place by Cinda Gault

It is 1885, and Abigail Peacock wishes she had never come to this Godforsaken place (otherwise known as Northwestern Ontario).

No matter how much I want to deny it, I had to admit that I was inescapably trapped, bayed in this Godforsaken place, and brought to my knees with the despair of it.

After Abigail’s mother dies in England, she and her father decide to come to Canada to make a new life, like so many others. Abigail’s father gets sick, and she spends her days nursing her father and teaching the other men in the sparsely populated settlement English.

Mother found happiness elusive because she avoided risk. I became the adventurer and still nothing made me happy. I exasperated myself. Maybe happiness was not what I thought it was.

Then she buys a gun, and her world changes. For the first time in her life, she longs to get away. Owning a gun makes her feel powerful and independent. She starts practising her shooting on the range behind her hut. One day, when she gets there, she finds an injured cowboy and his horse. This discovery starts a chain of events that takes her from Canada to New York to London, and back to Canada; from Annie Oakley to the Younger Brothers, and Gabriel Dumont.

Not so long ago I was a sensible girl, devoted to her mother, dedicated to moulding young minds and producing respectable members of society. Now I was a wild woman with a gun and a taste for blood and adventure.

This Godforsaken Place is a good adventure story with a strong female protagonist, but the best part of it for me was learning more about Annie Oakley and the Wild West, as well as the Metis Rebellion in Saskatchewan with Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. Gault managed to smoothly weave these two very different historical episodes into the story of Abigail Peacock from Wabigoon, Ontario.

Things I liked:

  1. The history.
  2. Abe, the horse. He was a character in his own right.
  3. The Mark Twain quotes scattered throughout the book.
  4. Abigail’s gutsy nature and intelligence.
  5. It made me want to read “Roughing it in the Bush” by Susanna Moodie.
  6. The mystery of why the cowboy asks Abigail to carry out his request.

While reading This Godforsaken Place, I was on a bike trip with my family, and I couldn’t help but notice some of the similarities between myself and Abigail Peacock:

  • Abigail and I were both on an adventure. Hers lasted about 3 years, mine about 5 days. Close enough.
  • Abigail rode a horse, I rode a bike. Close enough.
  • We both slept in tents. Abigail’s made from spruce trees, mine from nylon. Close enough.
  • Abigail has a passion for shooting, I have a passion for reading. Both are very dangerous. (If you think shooting while riding a horse is dangerous, try reading while riding a bike!)
  • At the end of our trips, Abigail and I were both in desperate need for a shower.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the book to think about:

Successes come from great risks; failures come from harebrained gambles. How is one to know the difference between heroic perseverance and foolish clinging?

This Godforsaken Place is Cinda Gault’sย first novel, and was sent to me by the kind folks at Brindle and Glass.ย Read it if you’re looking for an educational adventure!


29 thoughts on “This Godforsaken Place by Cinda Gault

  1. Lynn says:

    Nice notation of ALL the really similar commonalities! Ha! Ha! You have a great sense of humor! This sounds fascinating…onto my TBR list it goes! ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice review!

    • Naomi says:

      It is! And, it was fun to see how the timeline fit compared to some other books I’ve read. I love reading about the 19th century, but rarely get into the Wild West stuff, which is going on at the same time as so many other things. (Right now I am thinking of The Signature of All Things, which I just read.)

  2. Carole Besharah says:

    “At the end of our trips, Abigail and I were both in desperate need for a shower.” You kill me! Tee hee.

    This sounds right up my alley. Thanks for sharing, Naomi!

  3. ebookclassics says:

    Oh, poor Northern Ontario. I agree this sounds like the perfect summer book with a good mix of story and characters. Good books always seem to find their way to you, Naomi!

    • Naomi says:

      Well, let’s be kind and say 1885 Northern Ontario. Maybe that’s better? I’m sure it has improved quite a lot since then. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • ebookclassics says:

        We have visited friends who live near Kirkland Lake and their families have been there for generations. They say they can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s very beautiful country, but very remote too.

  4. DoingDewey says:

    I’m not certain I’d like this – the being empowered by getting a gun thing doesn’t jive with my political views especially well – but all the things you like about the book sound great to me too, so I might give it a chance ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Naomi says:

      In 1885, there probably weren’t a lot of things that made a woman feel empowered – especially in a remote settlement filled with men. For me, the book was a fun adventure, with a bit of a history lesson at the same time. A good light read!

  5. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    So I just finished reading this book, and I really liked it. I had to read up on all the history stuff about Riel, Dumont, and the Metis though, for it all to make sense. (Not that I minded a bit; I loved that I learned lots of new things.) I’m just wondering, and forgive me for this somewhat stupid question, but how big of a deal was this uprising in Canadian history? I have to admit that I know almost nothing about Canadian history, so I can only speculate.
    (As an aside, I felt sorry for the poor Russian Mennonites, trying the drain the Prairie to farm. With all those lakes, you know they couldn’t have been very successful.)

    • Naomi says:

      If it makes you feel better, I believe the biggest population of Mennonites in Canada is still in Manitoba, so they must have done okay in the end. That would make a good book!
      I’m happy to hear you liked the book! I also loved learning more about the rebellion, etc. To answer your question, Riel is a big name in Canada, even here on the East Coast. We all learned about the Rebellion in school, but not in a very entertaining way. I know I have forgotten a lot of the details. I believe there are quite a lot of books written about it, both fiction and non-fiction.
      I just finished getting ready my interview post with Cinda Gault – it’ll be up soon! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. ebookclassics says:

    I just received a copy of the book and can’t wait to compare notes with you ladies. But I will probably need to brush up on my Canadian history too!

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