God of the Plains
by Gail Robinson (9781550503470)

God of the Plains
Gail Robinson
Release Date: 31 May 2007
Format: Paperback
Pages: 435
Category: Literary
Publisher: Coteau Books
ISBN: 9781550503470
ISBN-10: 1550503472

"A complex, mythic, novel about people who settle and make their lives on the Canadian prairies, and the totem which rules their days - the windmill."

The God of the Plains arrives with European settlers in 1892, who immediately begin the construction of a windmill. It is a fitting god for people who insist on living there, representing the necessary effort to provide themselves life-giving water. At the same time it suggests their Quixotic attitude that the human spirit can prevail over the harsh facts of environment.

Through subsequent generations, right to the late 1940s, their god is with them, both hectoring them and measuring their lives. Always it whispers, seduces, shrieks, moans or falls ominously silent, haunting the imaginations of everyone in its vicinity with a mythic presence that seems benevolent to some, profoundly malevolent to others.

Gail Robinson's style is distinctive, her narrative voice is witty, offhand, in a godlike manner commenting on and encapsulating global events as easily as she recounts the more microcosmic doing of her quirky cast of characters. Sam builds wheeled sailboats one after the other, to try and sail his sister to a new life in Mexico. A neighbour tries to learn French from a Metis trapper, and to preserve his hands from farm work, to sustain his dream of being a surgeon. The main character, Emma, becomes obsessed with the idea that she must train herself to leap from the top of the windmill and land safely to appease this god and thereby end the bloodshed in Europe.

This busy, rangy, well-populated novel could be tragic but isn't - because of the tone of the writing, and because of the wry get-on-with-it attitude of thecharacters.

AUD $30.95

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