Book Review: “The Tenderness Of Wolves”

the tenderness of wolves

The last time I visited my childhood home back in January, somebody had added “The Tenderness of Wolves” by Stef Penney to my bookshelf.

The cover looked cold and wintry, and the title intrigued me, so I started to read.

The shocking discovery

The story takes place in an isolated Canadian settlement during the winter of 1867. Though the frontier town is not new to tragedy, settlers are shocked when a man is found murdered.

A woman discovers that her seventeen-year-old boy ran away in the same night. She realises she must take the perilous journey to follow him if she’s to clear his name.

A filmmaker’s touch

Stef Penney easily transported me to a desolate and unforgiving Canadian landscape. So, imagine my surprise to learn she had never been there.

In an interview for the Costa Book Awards, she said, “You can do a lot of research and try and absorb the essence of a place, but it’s perhaps more vivid if you’re imagining it.”

Trying to find the secret to such vivid imagination, I came across one answer in another interview for CBS.

Penney said, “I always wanted to be a filmmaker [. . .] And I think that’s why this book is quite visual and it has a strong sense of place.”

Frayed edges

The story follows many characters, but my favourite parts involved Mrs Ross. She’s quiet and cynical, but the deep love she feels — for her son especially — is palpable through her actions.

Answers are revealed by the end, but not all is tied up neatly.

Expect to be left with some tantalising frayed edges. Though that may be off-putting, it works because it reflects the vast unknown landscape.

If you’re looking for a book to make you feel grateful of being indoors, this is the one!

Click here to view “The Tenderness Of Wolves” on Amazon.

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Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.