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