I had the milky white complexion of my Celtic forebears that burned without tanning. With an audible sigh that sounded more like a moan, I left the computer and went into the kitchen, opened a can of beans, and started to make burritos. Cheap and filling, they were one of the few things that my fussy child would eat. Hoping it was a potential employer, I snatched it up without checking the call display. Who's calling, please? I have a legal practice in Juniper, Alberta. I'm the executor of a will in which you are named as the principal beneficiary.
She passed away two weeks ago. It was true that Mary Margaret Bannister was the maiden name of my grandfather's sister, but she had died decades ago, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness. I had been named after her, although everyone called me Molly. When I called the office, one of your former colleagues was kind enough to give me your telephone number. I realize it's unorthodox to call rather than write, but I wanted to expedite matters. I did have a great-aunt by that name who lived in Canada, but she died many years ago. Lee was in a nursing home for the past twenty years suffering from Alzheimer's, but she was very much alive until recently.
In fact, she was years old on her last birthday. After The Accident — I always thought of it with capital letters — the Arizona social services department had concluded that I had no living relatives. Surely the lawyer was mistaken — if he was in fact a lawyer. The man spoke again. Was Fergus your father? Just the sound of it gave me a pang. Then you can call me back to discuss your inheritance. I reflected briefly, then gave him my mailing address. It wouldn't be mine for long, anyway, so there was nothing to lose. After hanging up, I searched for Alberta, a large province bordering Montana, and found the capital, Edmonton.
I was surprised to find that Canada's northernmost large city had more than one million residents. We had learned little about Canadian history or geography in school. I knew only that Canada was enormous and sparsely populated, dotted along the border with a few urban centres, like Toronto and Vancouver. I hadn't realized there was another large city so far to the north.
When I thought about them at all, I pictured Canadians as a hardy people who escaped to warmer climes whenever possible. From the local media, I knew that thousands of Canadian snowbirds bought homes in Phoenix, something that helped to bump up our real estate market. But overall, I felt slightly ashamed that I was so ignorant about this vast northern neighbour. I had applied for another six jobs without success, including one as a server at a downtown coffee shop. I didn't know what I would do if an employer wanted to arrange a personal interview.
When Gabby was here, I could leave Bridget at home.
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But now that there were just the two of us, she had to accompany me everywhere. I opened the large brown envelope without much hope and scanned the contents. Most of the material was difficult to read, couched in incomprehensible legal language, but it concerned a farm in northern Alberta, "herein referred to as Wildwood. This was written in black ink, in a strong yet feminine hand, attached to the will as a codicil, signed and witnessed, dated June 4, To that end, I am leaving Wildwood to my nephew Fergus Bannister, and in case of his death, to my great-niece Mary Margaret Bannister, on condition that the heir inhabits the property for a full twelvemonth period prior to the transfer of title.
During that time, he or she will receive a living allowance in the form of the monthly rental income from the farmland. I had no intention of living on a farm, especially one that remote. And Bridget's precarious mental state would completely unravel if she had to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings.
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On the other hand, she was facing a very uncertain future here in Phoenix. Where was this place, anyway? I went to my computer and googled Juniper, Alberta. It was two thousand miles straight north of Phoenix, a ridiculously long way. To put things in perspective, if I drove two thousand miles east instead of north I would find myself in the Atlantic Ocean. I checked the map again. It was farther north than Ketchikan, Alaska! I tried Google Earth. The digital globe revolved, then zoomed into the town, a small settlement along the banks of a wide river, surrounded by a checkerboard of rectangular green fields.
Apparently it didn't snow there all the time. I wondered if I could find the farm itself. I entered the legal description of the property, and Google Earth focused on a spot that seemed a long way from Juniper. Eighty-eight miles, to be exact. It wasn't bad enough that the town was so far away, but the farm was even farther. Unfortunately the satellite image was blurry. The farm was no more than a dark blot on a green background.
I zoomed out. The farm stood at the edge of an irregular block of light-green and yellow rectangles that looked like they had been carved out of the forest. At the northern edge of the property, the landscape abruptly changed into flat, dark-green wilderness that continued — I scrolled north, farther and then farther again — practically into infinity. The forest, dotted with rivers and lakes, morphed into frozen tundra that finally ended on the banks of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Circle. This particular farm was situated on the very fringe of human habitat. I turned back to the will again.
My inheritance, if I fulfilled my great-aunt's condition, consisted of two sections of land, plus a dwelling, its contents, and several outbuildings. What was a section, anyway? I did some more research and was pleasantly surprised to find that a section was acres. So there were 1, acres. That sounded like a lot. But what could be grown so far north? Christmas trees? I typed: "Value of farmland in the area of Juniper, Alberta. I fell back in my chair, staggered. But then I remembered that the price was listed in Canadian dollars. With my luck, the Canadian dollar would be worth ten cents on the American dollar.
Hastily I looked up today's exchange rate. This time I was more than staggered; I was stunned. The Canadian dollar, at eight o'clock this morning, was worth two cents more than the American dollar. One hour later I called the lawyer in his office. It seemed incredible that he was in the same time zone — just two thousand miles closer to the North Pole.
Franklin Jones was shocked when I told him the news. Let me explain. The farm is in a very remote location, with no power or water, and the house hasn't been lived in for years. I must urge you to reconsider. If he was right, I was going to waste my remaining funds on a wild goose chase. I couldn't keep a quiver out of my voice. I thought we might have been disconnected, but finally he spoke.
What would we need except groceries? I took a deep breath and forced myself to speak firmly. We'll be there in three weeks. I'll come straight to your office when we've arrived. The night was simmering, thick with the muffled roar of invisible traffic coming from freeways that surrounded us on all four sides. I looked up at the sky. Phoenix lay in a bowl on the desert, and at this time of year the bowl was filled with thick smog.
I could hear an airplane overhead, beginning its descent into the nearby international airport, but I couldn't even see its blinking red landing lights through the grey blanket above. Arizona was my birthplace, where my parents had chosen to raise me. I felt almost disloyal for thinking of leaving. But the numbers didn't lie.
For that kind of money, I would have moved to the Congo. If I could inherit and sell the farm, I could afford the best doctors, the most skilled therapists in the world for Bridget. This was her only chance. Twelve short months from now, God willing, we would be back in Phoenix with enough money to create a new life for both of us. Continues… Excerpted from "Wildwood" by. Excerpted by permission of Dundurn Press. All rights reserved.
No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. The isolated farmhouse cast off a terrifying chill as they took in their surroundings. Molly was a city girl and moving into the country with her four-year-old daughter was a chance that she was willing to take. Molly believed that taking this year off to live in this remote countryside was the best option for the both of them.
Molly knew nothing about country living nor did she know about her great aunt and uncle who left her this property. The townfolk were welcoming and they reach out to the new family. I liked these journal entries just as much as Molly did. I felt that they helped her not feel so isolated in the struggles that she has having living on the estate. The similarities of these two women were striking although the time periods were many years apart.
Bridget is a shy child when they set foot onto the estate but as time moves on, she changes. There were times I wondered if Molly notices what was happening with her daughter as they get caught up in everyday life. Molly is constantly counting down the days till she can go back to Arizona and get Bridget back into treatment. Each day is a new set of challenging yet as I read, I saw something growing between Molly and her daughter. This was a fantastic novel with an entertaining, engaging story that I truly enjoyed.
It was one of those novels where I became vested in the lives of the characters and I truly cared how things played out. View all 5 comments. This was great! Look for it to come out in February It was like a modern day Susanna Moodie. Good story, satisfying ending. Most Canadians, I would hope, are familiar with Susanna Moodie and her books such as Roughing it in the Bush, where she tells what life is really like as a pioneer.
This book is more like Susanna, then Laura, but they both share the love of the beauty of the wilderness. You get to look at this quiet, isolated farmland and all its beauty, through a year of basically Most Americans are familiar with the Little House in the Prairie books, which was an idealized version of Laura Engles Wilder's life. You get to look at this quiet, isolated farmland and all its beauty, through a year of basically roughing it in the 21st Century.
I really enjoyed reading this, and seeing the world through Molly's eyes. There was a few things that got to me, such as phrases she might not have known, that were very Canadian, since she was from Arizona, but they were far and few between. The language is lovely. This is a description of the Northern Lights We could even hear them hissing and humming. The Indians believe that they are the spirits of all the people who have passed away, dancing in the heavens. Molly sometimes seemed very naive, as well, and she frustrated me at times. I grew up in a warm climate too, but I know that ice is slippery.
And although the author writes very well about the Cree, there is one fact that bothers me, when she says that they get free college tution. According to the CBC news, it is not true, or it is not as easy as that. They do get money from the government, but often not enough to pay for all students who want to apply, because the funding is capped.
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Otherwise, she writes very lovingly, espcially about the problems of the aftermath of the Residency Schools system. Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review. Mar 21, Sarah Sundin rated it it was amazing. What a glorious novel! With flawed and relatable characters, gorgeous description, and a loving but realistic look at a difficult lifestyle, Wildwood satisfies on every level.
Uplifting and thought-provoking, this is a novel to savor. Mar 16, Cathy Geha rated it really liked it. Wildwood by Elinore Florence Molly is down on her luck with time running out when a fortuitous inheritance finds its way to her. The only glitch is that she has to live on the land for a year. Where is the land? Way up north in Canada where it gets very very cold indeed! Molly has four year o Wildwood by Elinore Florence Molly is down on her luck with time running out when a fortuitous inheritance finds its way to her. Molly has four year old daughter with issues but still…she believes that living in the house is her only recourse so…off she goes.
I have always liked stories of the past, what it was like to live in such times and how people managed. I once asked my mother what it must be like to be a pioneer and she told me that living in a country with unreliable electricity, water supply and such put me on par with people living in the past…at least part of the time. The story is well told and done in a way that the reader almost feels they are there. Jan 08, Thebooktrail rated it it was amazing Shelves: books-set-in-canada. What a fascinating and entertaining read!
If you really want to experience the early days of Canadian homesteads then this is a great book to start. You get to live and breathe each and every experience with the characters and it was a really interesting way to discover early Canadian history and to see just what difficulties people in those times had Full review to follow. Sep 22, Krista rated it really liked it.
As a child I read all the stories I could get my hands on about pioneering. I wished that I had been born earlier so I could ride on the wagon trains heading out West. Time and maturity have since cured me of that desire. For example, I like having a dentists and doctors that use modern methods of treatment and pain relief. This story took me back to those memories of what pioneering life would be like, and superimposed that experience in the modern day.
Molly's life is unraveling. She has one ch As a child I read all the stories I could get my hands on about pioneering.
She has one chance to try to knit it back together. If she and her young daughter can survive for a year on her great-aunt's homestead in northern Alberta, then the homestead will be hers. Once it's in her possession she plans to sell it to get the funds to pay for her daughter Bridget's medical care. The plot unfolds in alternating storylines from Molly's present-day experiences, and those of her aunt's told from the perspective of her journal entries. Both women find strength in doing things on their own, and grow to appreciate the gifts of nature, and the lessons that local First Nation women teach them.
I loved seeing how the past informs the present. I rooted for Molly and Bridget to make it through the year, and loved how the women on both stories coped with the situations that they found themselves in. Thank-you to them and the author for providing the book in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book. The writing was so descriptive and flowed nicely. It made me realize how lucky I am to live on my beautiful acreage. Mar 18, Marzie rated it really liked it Shelves: arc-net-galley.
Wildwood , Elinor Florence's second novel, tells the tale of Molly Bannister, a single mother in a serious bind after losing her job. Molly is unexpectedly the recipient of a bequest of her Great Aunt Mary Margaret's farm in a remote area of Alberta, near the town of Juniper. The only catch is that in order to have the land titled in her name, she must live on the property for a full calendar year. With her young daughter Bridget tow, Molly pulls up stakes in Arizona and moves to Wildwood. The st Wildwood , Elinor Florence's second novel, tells the tale of Molly Bannister, a single mother in a serious bind after losing her job.
The story of her year is intertwined with the journal of her Great Aunt, Mary Margaret Bannister Lee, recounting her first year of married life living with her husband George Albert Lee. Mary Margaret, born in County Cork, Ireland, had been visiting with friends when she met George at a dance in Juniper and they married. The hard life of homesteading in northern Alberta in the 's is recounted and heartens Molly's stay through a number of harrowing events. She and Bridget survive the harsh winter as they struggle with food security, survive being stranded in a snowstorm, and even a terrifying encounter with a grizzly and her cub.
Florence, who hails from Saskatchewan, has a clear love of the remote Canadian wilderness and that shines through. Her character depictions, while perhaps not as polished as those in Kristin Hannah's recently released The Great Alone, a book to which American reviewers are likely to compare Wildwood, are engaging. The story itself, including a subplot with a romance, was a bit predictable, I still enjoyed the book because of the interplay between Mary Margaret's life and her namesake Molly's.
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I was initially taken aback by Florence's depiction of a somewhat illiterate Cree youth who lives near Wildwood, but in the end, the character is drawn as so smart in all the ways Molly isn't. An interesting read! A must-read magnificent novel inspired by her own life and ancestry in Canada I did not want this book to come to an end as it is so incredibly beautifully written. Her passionate inspiration to write the book oozes through each page abundantly full of history, hardship, sadness, joy, relationships and courage.
Her heroine, Molly, inherits a homestead from an aunt she never knew and the condition for the inheritance is that Molly lives for one year like her aunt did, without plumbing or electricity. This came at a very opportune time for Molly and her daughter Bridget who had communication issues. They arrive in the remote wilderness with no experience whatsoever of surviving in this harsh remote environment.
Elinor inspiringly weaves the courage Molly needs to overcome obstacles every day with the journal she finds of how her aunt survived as a courageous Irish descent homesteader. Molly meets fascinating characters and interesting relationships are forged including with indigenous people. This aspect makes the book feel autobiographical. Molly and her daughter also prove to be strong and courageous. Go to Elinor Florence to find out more about this fascinating author, particularly if you love the history of Canada. BonnieK Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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Jan 01, Rose rated it it was amazing. A wonderful adventure from the past to the future of two different women and life in northern Alberta. Nov 19, Susan rated it it was amazing. Wildwood by Elinor Florence is now in my top 10 all time favorite novels. I loved everything about this book. The writing style is smooth and flows so well. I enjoyed the diary sections as much as the current time sections. The comparisons worked well. The characters were fully devoloped and grew emotionally and physically during the time spent in Juniper at Wildwood. I enjoyed the knowledge gained about the pioneers and the indigenous people, the landscape, the surrounding nature of the land, Wildwood by Elinor Florence is now in my top 10 all time favorite novels.
I enjoyed the knowledge gained about the pioneers and the indigenous people, the landscape, the surrounding nature of the land, the length of winter and summer days. All amazing. Thank you Net Galley. I will add this author to my list of favorites. Apr 22, Julie rated it it was amazing.
I picked this one up because I liked the premise of the novel; living off the grid is something that appeals to me very much for like a weekend maybe. It reminded me of how strong I had to be at certain times in my own life and how I dug deep to find strength. Sometimes I wonder just where that strength came from. Even though after reading the first few chapters I knew how Wildwood would end, Elinor Florence sketched a beautiful story of quiet determination.
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The picturesque landscape comes to life and season after season, Molly learns to fend for herself with no running water or electricity. She grows in ways she never thought possible. Florence also weaves modern concerns into this novel and tackles issues such as fracking and indigenous topics that are present in the media right now. This brings me to another thing I loved about the novel, The House. I spent a lot of time thinking about that house, with all its untouched treasures — frozen in time. I know, I know… there are many things I loved about the novel — but my absolute favorite parts were when Molly spent time in the kitchen.
Reading her baking adventures brought back wonderful memories of my own. Not only as a child watching my mother bake but my own trials and errors with eggs and flour. There is absolutely nothing more satisfying than making something from scratch! Old cookbooks fascinate me, and I have quite the little collection.
I love the ones that have hand written recipes in them or little notes in the margin so every time Molly took out her worn cookbook, I wanted to get into my kitchen as well. An e-galley of this novel was provided by the publisher in exchange for my thoughts and review I really liked this novel which proves that even in your thirties you can come of age. It seems like the answer to her prayers, but Molly must live on the farm for an entire year in order to claim it.
Stick it out for as long as possible and sell the place as quickly as she can. The place is worse than Molly thought in most ways: the house is old, no electricity, no plumbing. The nearest neighbors are miles away. In others, the farm is lovelier than she expected, and the house is solidly built. The peace and natural beauty are exceptional. Molly has few pioneer skills, but she digs in and works hard.
Molly is a skilled accountant, but an insecure woman with a succession of unsuccessful relationships. She has always been solitary. In the far north, she proves to herself that she has strengths, she makes friends, and Bridget thrives in this habitat. As her confidence progresses, she begins to have doubts about her rental contract — it may be seriously underfunded. Her suspicions cast a pall over some of her relationships. This is a survival story with depth. The characters are likeable and well developed. This is a strong story.
I recommend it highly for most readers — especially those who like books with evolving strong characters and positive plot lines. Oct 26, Nancy rated it really liked it. The story was a personal journey into Northern Alberta, Canada and life for Molly and her daughter living in a remote old dwelling. The house has no electricity or indoor plumbing. Molly is from Arizona and the weather and modern conveniences are a real culture shock here in Canada. Molly and her 4 yr old daughter have issues from the past to deal with 3.
Molly and her 4 yr old daughter have issues from the past to deal with. Will this journey being a healing process for them and cause them to high tail it back to Arizona.?
Jan 25, Hannelore Cheney rated it it was amazing. What a wonderful book this is! It evoked many emotions; tears, panic the extreme, deadly cold and the bear had my heart racing empathy and genuine caring for the characters. Having lived there for 20 years, I have a special place in my heart for Canada and I relived the experience of moving from Manhattan to a ramshackle farmhouse in Upstate NY while reading Molly and Bridget's accomplishments and failures. Molly, in dire straights and unable to pay her rent, decides to move from Arizona to Northern Alberta to inhabit the farmhouse she has inherited from her great-aunt.
She will take ownership only when she has lived there for one year. She decides to take the challenge and then sell the house and land once the year is over A task more daunting than she could ever have imagined. No running water, no electricity forget about cellphones, the Internet, TV or radio! Cooking, heating the house , keeping the car running, doing the wash and keeping yourself clean in the middle of nowhere proves quite a challenge.
Her great-aunt's diaries help a lot emotionally as well as helping her learn the ways of the homesteader. The daily challenges they face together help both mother and daughter enormously, especially Bridget, who suffers from select mutism. This book is a must read, it makes one yearn for a simpler life and you may just bake some bread after I did!
Wonderful story about a single mother from Arizona living in a remote, abandoned homestead in Northern Canada with her developmentally-challenged young daughter. Realistic portrayal of life in the harsh wilderness and engaging cast of characters. Simplistic but lovely writing. Highly recommended story -. Mar 27, Sandy Wettle rated it really liked it. This is a book about a woman who ends up "pioneering" in Northern Canada because she has lost her job and has no other way to survive with her daughter.
Molly orphaned at age 13, is to inherit her great aunt's farm if she can live there for 1 year. Molly finds out how strong she really is. I love books that have strong female protagonists. Dec 29, Elaine Thomas rated it it was amazing. An epic battle with the northern wildness. When a surprising inheritance with strings attached comes her way, Molly Bannister grudgingly accepts a challenge that only a few weeks before she would have laughingly dismissed as ridiculous. She has been laid off from her accounting job in Phoenix, Arizona, and is quickly running out of savings with sees no promising employment opportunities on the horizon.
She is alone in the world with Bridget, her young daughter, whose shaky mental state makes every trip away from the condo a challenge. Will Molly be successful? Yet Wildwood is anything but banal. The author has successfully layered the plot with much more than the anticipated drama. It is populated with characters that leap off the pages, meaningful sub-themes and crystal-clear, well-researched description.
The author draws the reader into the T. Eaton Catalogue house where Molly will live with such precise, pleasing detail that the reader could imagine walking into the parlour to pick up a book she had left there. Wildwood by Elinor Florence is a delightful read in the same class as the classic Little House on the Prairie. Feb 23, Raquel rated it really liked it. So for one thing, I'm from Saskatchewan - only a province over from Alberta and near the setting of the fictional abandoned farmhouse Wildwood by the fictional town of Juniper, Alberta that is meant to represent early colonies such as Peace River, Manning and Beaver Lodge in northern Alberta.
I don't personally live in the middle of nowhere like the farmhouse is intended to be but if you're from the prairies chances are you've been on a farm in the middle of nowhere at some point in your life.