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At the height of the Great Depression, two Prairie children struggle with poverty and uncertainty. Surrounded by religion, law, and her authoritarian father, Cora Wagoner daydreams about what it would be like to abandon society altogether and join one of the Indian tribes she’s read so much about.
Saddened by struggles with Indian Agent restrictions, Hunter George wonders why his father doesn’t want him to go to the residential school. As he too faces drastic change, he keeps himself sane with his grandmother’s stories of Wîsahkecâhk.
As Cora and Hunter sojourn through a landscape of nuisance grounds and societal refuse, they come to realize that they exist in a land that is simultaneously moving beyond history and drowning in its excess.
"Canadians are – very belatedly – starting to come to grips with the reprehensible treatment of First Nations peoples in their history and its legacy of pain in the present; Quartermain’s novel contributes to that process."
“Dispossession in various forms haunts this historical novel. Wild longing, tart dialogue, and acute perception bring Meredith Quartermain’s child-narrators alive in their dustbowl world of few options. A remarkable first novel.”
“Reminiscent of Sheila Watson, Quartermain weaves the richness of myth with a parched, impoverished landscape. Enduring family histories sustain two youngsters from opposite sides of the tracks as they converge in a desperate trek through Rupert’s Land.”
“Quartermain handles each character with exquisite care backed with extensive research allowing each to seek ‘another way to be’ so that we can search our own biases too. Written precisely and poignantly, Rupert’s Land seems destined to become a Canadian classic.”
"It’s the departures from the expected that make the story so rich ... The two narrators aren’t at all who or what I expected them to be." full review
"The background of despair is familiar from writers like Sinclair Ross, but the way Quartermain brings an age to life while staring unflinchingly at its attitudes and injustices through the eyes of children is reminiscent of To Kill A Mockingbird. The same innocent intelligence that characterizes Scout in that novel informs Cora’s and Hunter’s acute observations, conveyed in a blend of pitch perfect dialogue and inner voices." full review
"Quartermain's background in poetry is evident in the novel's lyricism. The imagery is vivid ... the picture Quartermain paints will stay with you for some time."
"The best fiction brings serious issues into sharper focus. Rupert’s Land did this for me because the storyline includes Indian residential schools in Canada — although this is the furthest thing from a preachy book. Gifted Canadian poet Meredith Quartermain shows rather than tells." full review
"A technically ambitious novel located mainly in Stettler, Alta., but with an epic scope that includes all of the Canadian prairie lands."
"Hunter is a fully living, breathing character..." full review
"Rupert's Land is as vast as it is packed."
"Tragic, and perhaps redemptive."