November 1917. William Moreland is in mid-flight. After nearly 20 years, the notorious thief, known as the Ridgerunner, has returned. Moving through the Rocky Mountains and across the border to Montana, the solitary drifter, impoverished in means and aged beyond his years, is also a widower and a father. And he is determined to steal enough money to secure his son's future.
Twelve-year-old Jack Boulton, born in the woods to two outlaws, now finds himself semi-orphaned and left in the care of Sister Beatrice, a formidable nun of the Anglican Order of Saint Mara. In the town of Banff, where tourists, new immigrants, and POWs dwell among the locals, she lays claim to the boy and keeps him in cloistered seclusion in her grand old home.
The boy longs to return to his family's cabin, deep in the Sawback Range.
His father is coming for him.
The nun won't let him go.
Set against the backdrop of a distant war raging in Europe and a rapidly changing landscape in the West, Gil Adamson's follow-up to her award-winning debut The Outlander is a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition and a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss and steeped in the wild of the natural world. (From House of Anansi Press)
Gil Adamson is a writer and poet. Her first novel, The Outlander, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and was a Canada Reads finalist in 2009, when it was championed by Nicholas Campbell. She has published several volumes of poetry, including Primitive and Ashland.
Giller Prize jury citation: "The long-awaited sequel to Gil Adamson's hit The Outlander moves the action forward a decade, returning the 13-year-old son of the original protagonists to a forested land into which prisoners of the first world war are now hewing roads. The proximity of this new type of outlaw presents an existential threat to young Jack, who takes refuge in his parents' abandoned shack with a price on his head after escaping the toxic hypocrisies of 'civilisation'. Drawing richly on both the Western and on gothic fiction, Adamson evokes a mythic landscape to frame the question: how is it possible to live a good life, when obedience to man-made laws is so at odds with love, loyalty and respect for the natural world?"
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"I remember being done with The Outlander and realizing to myself that I wasn't done with that whole world. I had enjoyed writing and being in that world so much, it seemed sort of sad to just leave it behind forever.
"The idea for Ridgerunner came from an offhand comment by a book clubber. I had done a talk for a book club in Alberta. After it was over, and everybody was leaving, there was this woman sitting next to me. She quietly mumbled to herself, 'I wonder what Mary and William will be like as parents.'
For me, it was more about wondering what Mary and William's kid was going to be like. That was exciting for me to think about.- Gil Adamson
"She did what readers do — imagining what happens after the book. But as the writer, I can do something about that. For me, it was more about wondering what Mary and William's kid was going to be like. That was exciting for me to think about. I wanted to write that person, even if I changed his name or it morphed into something else entirely. But it didn't. It morphed into a follow up to The Outlander. That's the way it worked out."