THE LOST GIANTS by Alan Scholefield


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A palatable historical novel in which Scholefield (The Last Safari, King of the Golden Valley, etc.) sets his sights on the American West and comes up with a tale that has plenty of twists and turns. The time is the 1860's, when people in ill health are flocking to the Rockies in hope of a cure, religious splinter groups are moving west to found their own communities, and native American Indians are becoming increasingly hostile toward white settlers. In the midst of all this, Margaret Dow, who often feels ""too tight for her skin,"" heads for the mountains with her father, a British travel writer. At a train station, she spots a square, strong man carrying a short tree. George Renton, she learns, is a plant-collector with a mission: he's out to find a stand of very large, legendary pines (the ""lost giants"" of Scholefield's title). Soon, Margaret, her father, and George are traveling by boat up a remote river. Along the way, Margaret and George reject ""constraints and taboos"" on a leafy island and resolve to ""live off the land"" while searching for the big trees. Unfortunately, though, Indians ambush the travelers--Margaret's father is killed; George is washed down. stream; and Margaret is bound hand and foot and taken to the chiefs tepee. But not to worry: There's a lot more in store for Margaret. She gives birth to and raises a half-Indian daughter; works for an English couple who've come for natural therapy; tangles with the fundamentalist Reapers; starts a school; and takes an extended trip to England, where collecting exotic plants seems to be all the rage. Meanwhile, George's quest goes on, though for the most part it is overshadowed by Margaret's concerns. Eventually, his search will build to a genuinely surprising ending. An entertaining, intermittently exciting read, with themes that cannily echo some of the religious and racial issues of today.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's