The Horseman's Graves

The Horseman's Graves

Book - 2007
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Jacqueline Baker's highly acclaimed short story collection, A Hard Witching and Other Stories , marked the debut of an extraordinary literary talent. Proclaimed by reviewers to be "a rural J.D. Salinger," Baker received the prestigious Danuta Gleed Award and her collection was listed among Maclean's Top 10 Books of the Year.

The Horseman's Graves returns us to the harsh locale of Sand Hills on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border, where Baker unfolds a tale of a small German immigrant community caught between the promise of this new land and the weight of a European past, with its hatred, fear and old-country superstitions. Lathias is a half-breed farmhand, a young loner who becomes the unofficial guardian to the Schoff boy, a golden child until a terrible farm accident scars his face and his mind. Both boys are drawn to Elisabeth, a savagely beautiful girl, whose stepfather, Leo, is the local scapegrace, a man whose cruelty is both a source of amusement and shame to the townspeople. When Elisabeth, watched only by the Schoff boy, falls through the ice into the river, no one foresees how it will be the end--and the beginning--of everything.

A novel so lyrical and hypnotic that it begs to be read aloud, The Horseman's Graves is a pitch-perfect rendering of small-town immigrant life. Told through the unforgettable narrative voice of a seeall neighbour, it is filled with memorable characters: a blustering, pious priest; a mysterious "witch" faith healer; the town busybody; a fearful young farm wife who is virtually worked to death. An extraordinarily accomplished work, The Horseman's Graves is a profound testament to our universal search for love and redemption.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2007
ISBN: 9780002008365
000200836X
Branch Call Number: BAK
Characteristics: 432 p. ;,23 cm

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Cdnbookworm Apr 20, 2011

This novel is set in the rural area of the Sand Hills on the border between Saskatchewan and Alberta. Most of the members of the community are Russian-German and the church is a part of their lives, but farming is what their lives are about. Some of the community has brought prejudices and myths from the old country and that determines how they feel about some of their neighbours.
The Krauss family is one that was known as being mean in the old country and retains that designation in their new home. Their nearest neighbours, the Schoffs, were at first patient, but had less and less to do with the Krauss's as time went on. By the time the next generation had taken over the farms, they didn't talk to each unless necessary. When tragedy visits the Schoffs, culminating in the terrible accident marking their son, the Schoffs withdraw further from the community. The Schoff's hired hand, Lathias, becomes unofficial guardian of the boy, telling him the myths of the new land, and watching out for his welfare. When a young woman, Elizabeth, joins the Krauss household both Lathias and the boy are drawn to her and the three spend time together until another tragedy occurs, this time to Elizabeth. This destructs the Schoff's even further and affects the community as a whole.
A fascinating tale, with strong and deep characters marked by their surroundings.

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