The Jump-Off Creek by

1 December 2023

Call no:
Setting: ,
Rated : ,

6 April Bought the black hinny Mule today, $18, also the spavint gray as my money is so short and I have hope he will put on wt, his eyes are clear w a smart look in them and his feet not tender.

It is the 1890s and widow Lydia Sanderson has left her life and headed “out West”. Sole women homesteaders are not unheard of, according to one of her new neighbours, but they aren’t common. It is a hard life, full of back-breaking work and the possibility of accident and tragedy around. Especially when you live by yourself in a remote area. But that is what Lydia has set out to do.

I really enjoyed this book. I’ve liked everything I’ve read by Molly Gloss so far. The writing is simple and direct, not unlike Lydia and the other homesteaders. It doesn’t shy away from the toughness and unpredictability of their lives.

Gloss uses a mixture of Lydia’s diary entries with third person narration. It is a technique that I think works well, sometimes you read about an event, and then afterwards how it is described in Lydia’s diary. Or how it gets talked around rather than addressed.

It feels like a restrained novel, again, like the characters. They aren’t much for expressing their emotions. But at the same time they are there, and it never feels as though a hard life has eradicated anyone’s humanity. Sometimes people are driven to bad actions, sometimes their just inclined that way. That’s people for you.

In some ways I could see people describe this as a “slow” novel, but I don’t think it is. I think it is a character driven novel, and that is a plus in my book.

I would have happily stayed with Lydia and the homesteaders for another few hundred pages.

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2 Responses

  1. anne says:

    The quote you chose reminded me of Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang, which I loved, so I’m going to take your implied advice and read this!

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