Debut historical fiction about an upper-class young woman who begins her marriage by traveling from England to the frontiers of Canada in the early 1900s.
In this ambitious novel, Pekter takes readers on a journey that spans approximately 100 years, beginning with the reckless decision of Minnie Sinclair to marry a man she hardly knows. When she meets Harry Worthing Jr. in London, she’s immediately infatuated, forsaking her former love interest as well as her familial obligations to remain near her childhood home. After a whirlwind courtship, she crosses the Atlantic as the new Mrs. Worthing, ready to tackle homesteading in the Dominion of Canada. Unfortunately, the harsh realities of life on the unforgiving Canadian plains quickly change Harry, who becomes cruel. In many letters written to her lifelong friend Emily McCrindle, Minnie discloses the difficult emotional and physical struggles she faces. Emily proves a faithful pen pal and friend, ultimately traveling to Grand Prairie, Alberta, to help Minnie raise her children. The Minnie who awaits Emily on the homestead is much changed, and Emily knows she was right to come. After an additional tragedy strikes the family in Grand Prairie, they relocate to Victoria, where they form new relationships, resulting in multiple generations over several decades. Despite the apparent progress of Minnie’s children and grandchildren, the secrets of her life in Grand Prairie continue to haunt them until they uncover shocking truths. Throughout the novel, Pekter uses a stately, classical prose that lends a feeling of authenticity to the characters’ observations: “The wind has ceased. Its voice must feel as dry and cracked as my hands—both of us exposed to the cold.” There’s a languidness in the first half of the story that deftly reflects the lifestyle of the characters of the era, but the pace gets faster as the plot ascends into the modern era. Along the way, the author presents intriguing details about life on the Canadian Prairies at the turn of the 20th century and about the long-lasting psychological effects of impulsive choices.
Part travelogue, part epistolary novel, this tale will engage fans of family sagas.