The Outlander: A Novel

The Outlander: A Novel

by Gil Adamson

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061842238
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 9,348
File size: 517 KB

About the Author

Gil Adamson is the author of two books of poetry and a collection of stories, Help Me, Jacques Cousteau. The Outlander is her first novel. She lives with fellow writer Kevin Connolly in Toronto.

Read an Excerpt

The Outlander

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 stand motionless, listening, holding her dark skirts out of the water. In the moonlight, her beautiful face was hollow as a mask, eyes like holes above the smooth cheeks. The booming in her ears faded slowly, and she listened to the night air. No wind through the trees. The frogs had stopped shrilling. No sound except the dripping of her skirts and, far away, the dogs.

Nineteen years old and already a widow. Mary Boulton. Widowed by her own hand.

The girl stood in her ditch under a hard, small moon. Pale foam rose from where her shoes sank into mud. No more voices inside her head, no noise but these dogs. She saw her own course alongtheground as a trail of bright light, now doused in the ditchwater. She clambered up the bank and onto a road, her stiff funeral skirt made of bedspread and curtain, her hair wild and falling in dark ropes about her face. The widow gathered up her shawl and fled witchlike down the empty road.

At daybreak she was waiting for a ferry, hooded and shivering in her sodden black clothes. She did not know where she was but had simply run till the road came to an end, and there was the landing. A grand, warning sunrise lay overhead, lighting the tips of the trees, while the ground was in shadow and cold. The hem of her skirt was weighed down by mud. She whispered in camaraderie with herself, the shawl about her ears, while another woman stood uneasy by the empty ticket booth and held her children silent. They all watched her with large eyes. Even the smallest seemed to know not to wake the sleepwalker. Out above the river's surface, fat swallows stabbed at unseen bugs and peeped to one another in emotionless repetition. The ferry sat unmoving on the other side, a great flat skiff with a pilot's cabin in the rear.

The widow considered the ticket booth, realizing suddenly that she had no money. Behind her was the long, vacant road she had come down. It was stick-straight and lined with trees, and at the limit of sight it bent to the left where no movement, no human shape was yet visible. Her mind had cleared a little because she felt less afraid, and she now saw the world around her in a sharper, simpler way. Even the wind, rising and subsiding and fluttering her collar, followed a less ornamented rhythm than before. She could see it blowing, an infinite number of slack lines waving beforeher.

A boy on the other side of the river came to the edge of the bank and waved. One of the children waved back. He put his hands to his mouth and hollered. A man's voice hollered back. The widow turned to see a tall figure in coveralls coming down the road, his hand aloft. He must have emerged from an unseen path through the trees. He unlocked the door to the booth, stepped inside, slid back a tiny window, and leaned on his elbows. The woman and her children crowded in at the window and together they debated in hushed voices. A child's hand reached up to finger the dull coins and was slapped away. Once they had paid, the woman moved her children away to the dock. The river swept by in lavish, syrupy whorls, over which the ferry now laboured. The sky was withering with morning, whiter by the second, and over the shallows and the slim line of sand, insects could be seen gliding, carried giddy on the wind.

The widow roused herself, tucked a strand of hair under her shawl, and went up to the tiny booth with its window. Inside, the ticketman's racoon face floated in the dim, close air.

"I haven't . . .” she began.

He said nothing, simply waited. His hand lay on the counter before him, knuckles heavy and cracked.

The widow gazed in disgust at his fingernails, pale and sunk into the flesh, with a rim of dirt about each one. A cluster of slumbering things, and above them, darkness and the man's watching eyes.

"I haven't any money," she managed.

"Can't get over if ye can't pay."

Her mouth fell open. Part desperation, part surprise at hearing an actual human voice. "Please, I need to get to the other side. I'm . . . lategetting home."

"Out late, eh?"

The feral face came a little farther out of the gloom, fixing her with eyes that were clouded and small. He seemed to be considering an alternative meaning to her statement. She held her collar tight and waited as he gathered the unknown thoughts together.

"Been visiting?" His face took on the shadow of a smile. It was not an unkind face, exactly. The widow nodded, her heart beating hugely.

"Your mother will miss ye, won't she, if ye don't get home?"

The widow had never known a mother, and yet she nodded vigorously.

The ticketman's smile became a leer. "Can't have that."

The Outlander. Copyright ? by Gil Adamson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Outlander 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first part of the book was harder for me to get into, even though the book starts out suspenseful. After the first 4-5 chapters, I thought the story built up really well and then I could not put it down. Really interesting snapshot of the time period, wilderness and mountain settlements. Very interesting characters and the choices they make. I think it would make for a good book club discussion. I think this would also make an interesting film.......
Guest More than 1 year ago
I began reading on Saturday evening and read until I couldn't keep my eyes open. Finished it Sunday. I is honestly one of the best stories I have read. Keep on writing Gil.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1903, nineteen years old Mary Boulton calmly grabs her husband¿s rifle and fires killing him. The widow knows she cannot hang around not because she fears the law, but her abusive brother in laws would enact vengeance in their vicious style.----------------- Mary flees across wintry isolated Idaho and Montana while knowing in her composed gut they pursue her. On her trek, she reflects on her unhappy but thankfully short marriage exacerbated by the dead child. As her deep depression enables her to remain eerily unruffled, she meets people along the way. First there is the Frontiersman who admits creeping civilization makes him depressingly feel like an anachronism then there is the Reverend who treats her like an adored daughter. There are others some not as kind towards the itinerant female especially after a mining disaster that the locals feel she caused by being there. However, the worst is coming as the brothers are nearing and the Reverend wants to change their relationship to that of more of equal partners.------------- An allegory of a way of life that seems all but vanished, THE OUTLANDER is an excellent historical thriller starring a strong support cast, a spirited lead female, and a vivid picturesque setting. Readers anticipate High Noon is coming, but it is the trip to the final showdown that makes for a deep look at early twentieth century America in a remote part of the northwest.---------------- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Without doubt, this is one of the best books I have read in a while. It will definatly be on my list of favorites! From the opening page it grabs you and keeps you hooked until the very end. The characters in this book are so well developed and the plot keeps you wondering what will happen next. I finished reading yesterday and hope to reread it very soon. As I was reading I couldn't help but think what a wonderful movie this book would make...maybe we will see it in theaters soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept looking for more background story--before Mary "took flight". That was my only real complaint. Nice cast of characters along the way. Need more Canadian historical fiction like this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story. Just how long do you trudge along to escape your pursuers, and when is it just easier to give up? A true depiction of the real life characters that settled the west in the early years of our nation's history.
Hokie3457 More than 1 year ago
Great story of a woman on the run and her struggles in the great outdoors and inside her own mind.
LoveToReadVW More than 1 year ago
Not since I read The Shipping News has a novel so caught my attention. The descriptions of the mountain scenery are beautiful, as is her knowledge of how to survive in the wilderness. The author's descriptions of how Mary interacts with those she meets along the way show her developing strength and will to survive. Please, Gil Adamson, continue to write fiction!
TheFactory More than 1 year ago
Adamson presents an engaging idea of a widow who kills her husband and sets off into the wilderness to escape the two twin brother's-in-law tracking her to bring her to justice and or kill her. Little is done however, to develop the widow as a character. Nearly a hundred pages into the book one cannot find an explanation as to why she killed her husband, nor does one readily come by the end. It isn't learned until several chapters what her name is. Several hundred pages one knows very little about the main character at all, and has little sympathy for her meanderings, all trivial and forced. One can only guess in the end why the widow killed her husband. Mostly, since the husband is painted very sympathetically, there seems little motivation on the widows part to have done the deed. Secondary characters are given better to full development, like the widow's father, who is mentioned often, enough that one expects to see him, or for there to be a confrontation between him and the widow. Further inconsistencies include the fact the window can't read, but for convenience later she suddenly reads plenty. This is from a lack of development on the author's part, having written herself to a place she couldn't get out of. Overall, the back jacket of the book wooed me, but the book did not come close to living up to it's expectations. It feels as if information was inserted here and there without any pointed direction on the author's part.
katSC More than 1 year ago
After finishing this book I was sweetly surprised. The end of the book took me late into the night before I finally finished it. I thought the plot was well thought out and the characters were striking. When I started the book I was indifferent toward Mary Bulton but by the end I was rooting for her. Good read and interesting content.
10of11 More than 1 year ago
If you have the intelligence to understand and appreciate highly complex characters accompanied by accurate historical settings, this book will keep you enthralled to the end. I only wish the author would write more books of this genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book got my interest in the beginning, but by the end I was bored. The whole time I waited for the reason she became "the widow" but I was not amused. The main character was at no point likable nor interesting. You could tell the author tried to develop her character, but it wasn't done well.
scojo More than 1 year ago
Don't confuse this with the American YA series "Outlander." This is by a Canadian author who writes carefully and with poise. Certain facts like what year is it? what is heroine running from - are revealed slowly, later, so you have to be patient - it's truly worth it. I couldn't put it down. I loved the ending. Go Gil Adamson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The premise of this story sounded really good, but it somehow lost me along the way. I kept hoping for the exciting climax to this book, but never really could get it. The story just sort of fizzled for me and although I liked the characters, it just left me feeling sort of shallow....not really overly thrilled or disappointed one way or the other. Then there was the ending......I felt as though the writer even got tired of the "chases" and "running" and sort of gave up. It just didn't do it for me.....sorry.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gil Adamson's debut novel - The Outlander - will create instant fans and, I predict, hit the bestseller lists when it is released in April 2008. The novel opens with a nineteen year old woman fleeing from search dogs after she has murdered her husband. Set in 1903 among the mountain ranges of Western Canada, the novel is breathtaking in its scope and mesmerizing in its detail. Full of suspense, it had me turning the pages long into the night...and I was sorry to see the novel end; although I believe Adamson has deftly written the ending to allow for a sequel.Adamson's writing is a mix of Diana Gibaldan and Cormac McCarthy. She expertly creates setting which places the reader into the story and supplies a cast of characters who come alive on the pages. Mary Boulton, the self-made widow, quickly becomes a character the reader relates to - an unlikely character to evoke sympathy at first, but one who the reader gows to love. Along with Mary are such memorable personalities as: the red-haired twins (Mary's persistent brother-in-laws), the Reverend Bonnycastle (a pastor who believes in boxing as a way to preach the word), Charlie McEchern (the dwarf with a head for business), the Cregan brothers (charming felons, cattle rustlers and horse thieves), Giovanni (the Italian giant with the gift of brewing whiskey), and finally The Ridgerunner ... a man who needs no one, until he meets Mary.This novel has it all - gorgeous scenery, a tantalizing plot, great characters and a sprinkling of romance. I will be watching for more Adamson novels...and, yes, hoping for that sequel!Highly recommended.
raidergirl3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The lady on the cover, a widow by her own hand (I love that phrase!) is being chased across the wild west of Canada in 1903 by her (ex) twin brothers in law. There certainly wasn't a lot of support for women in those days for marriage counselling or post-partum depression. Not a lot of options for women.This is part adventure, part history of mining and the west, and a beautiful love story. The widow, who barely gets a name, spends most of the book learning about herself. An ignored child of her widowed father, married off to the first guy who comes along, and then isolated and treated like a slave, she never really had a moment to be herself, by herself, until she is on the lam and living in the wild. She meets some helpful men along the way.I could see this done as a movie, with lots of suspense and action and a love story that I really enjoyed. The last sentence was the only part that disappointed me, but I'll read that the way I'd like to, and then it becomes a great book.
SMPhillips on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great story beautifully written.
KAzevedo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A somewhat grim but ultimately, deeply satisfying book, The Outlander is written with simple yet beautiful language. The widow is at first barely a sketch, with nothing admirable about her, but one comes to admire her resilience and will to survive; she becomes fully fledged as a character. Her memories and her relationships combine to make an intriguing and compelling story that I will happily read again. I hope she will write another novel soon.
mebacat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very slow paced book, so if you come at it urgently and eager for chills and thrills you might be disappointed. Instead, you have to ease into this nature-filled story. Her observations of the landscapes and wild life are stunning, and the tale is told of people who don't fit into "normal" society and because of this are more endearing.Although there is dialogue, it is not predominant. Observation is what drives it, and I was surprised how quickly I was pulled into the story.A very satisfying read about countryside and characters I'd not run across before.
grigoro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, it had me form the first sentence. A 19-year old woman is travelling across the Canadian landscape after murdering her husband. She is being pursued by his revenge-seeking- brothers. She's alone and on the move. I really enjoyed reading about her exploits and the people she meets. Thumbs up.
prairiebee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"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."It is 1903 and Mary Boulton, 19, is on the run in the Rocky Mountains. Having killed her husband, she is steadily pursued through rugged terrain by her two red-headed brothers-in-law, armed and furious about their brother¿s death.The Outlander is the first novel by Toronto writer Gil Adamson, who had previously published works of poetry and short stories. Starting at a cracking pace, the novel settles into a steady rhythm as we follow Mary on a wild ride. She endures freezing nights in the mountains, risking frostbite and starvation as she desperately hides from her pursuers. Wild animals shuffle around her at night. Having been raised by her father and grandmother after her mother¿s death, Mary¿s well-heeled upbringing provides her with little useful knowledge for such conditions.Fortunately for Mary, several likeable, unusual characters spring up in the nick of time to help. William Moreland, a solitary man who has lived in the mountains for nine years, becomes more than just a rescuer, and later, the friendly Reverend Bonnycastle changes Mary¿s life. The rugged environment seems to house an unexpected number of kind souls.As someone who has spent some time in Alberta and B.C., I loved the setting of the story and the descriptions of the Rockies. I could picture the startlingly beautiful meadow flowers and the animals that inhabit the area, and imagine how cold and bleak that location would be without the appropriate gear.Read as part of the Canadian Book Challenge, The Outlander was a great read with memorable characters and a Hollywood-worthy ending.Recommended.
ShorelineStories on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A women on the run following the murder of her husband, finds new life in the Canadian wilderness.
Readermom68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finally managed to finish [The Outlander] by Gil Adamson. I want to say I liked this book, but I definitely did not. I could not connect with the main character. It also seemed as though the story never really came together. I think this might have a been a very good short story but in trying to make it a novel the author felt compelled to think up filler that would keep the reader from finding out why the main character killed her husband. This is not a spoiler, you find this out right away. The story touches on loss of faith and mental illness and fidelity but just seems to throw them out without any real exploration or development. It was a struggle to get through.
THEPRINCESS on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written, very descriptive and vivid story of a young woman married off to a man who is not what he seems to be. After an emotional disaster the woman kills her husband, flees into the Canadian wilderness and is pursued by her husbands twin brothers. She endures some unimaginable hardships in running and hiding, knowing they are hunting her down. The characters she meets in this story are unusual and interesting and the circumstances she finds herself in are extreme. But she pushes on, opens up, learns things and in the end...well, I won't go there. Only hesitation from giving it five stars is the rather abrupt ending.
crazy4reading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me a long time to read this book just because I went through a rough patch in July and Aug. I had borrowed the book from the library in the beginning of July and was really enjoying it when my life took a turn for the worse. I just couldn't read any books with out crying or not knowing what I was reading. I finally had to return the book and waited a few months before I borrowed it again. I am glad I waited and didn't try to read it or just gave up on it. I really enjoyed the book. The Outlander is the story of a woman in the early 1900's. The story starts with her running from her brother-in-laws. She goes through all these changes as she is on the run. The woman is Mary Boulton. She is a widow.On her journey she meets many interesting people and really discovers things about herself that she didn't know before. I found myself as I read this book wanting things to work out for her. I was pleased with most of the book except for the end. I felt a little bit was missing. I don't know what it was. I just know I wanted to know what happened with the brother-in-laws, otherwise it was a good book and well worth the time to read.