A Good Man

by Guy Vanderhaeghe | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0771087403 Global Overview for this book
Registered by gypsysmom of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 12/30/2011
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by gypsysmom from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, December 30, 2011
This is a hardcover book. My wonderful husband gave it to me for Christmas 2011. He read the description and thought it would be something I would like. And I'm sure he is right.

Journal Entry 2 by gypsysmom at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, November 16, 2012
Guy Vanderhaeghe doesn't write quickly enough for my liking but the results can't be argued with. It was 2002 that The Last Crossing was published and 1996 when The Englishman's Boy came out. In those intervening years I manage to forget what a great writer her is.

This book is billed as the conclusion of a trilogy but that's not really true in my mind. Yes, the previous two books are set in the prairies (on both sides of the 49th parallel) as they are just being opened up but that's about all that is in common. So, don't feel you have to read the other two to enjoy this one. This is a great book all on its own.

Wesley Case grew up in a privileged family in southern Ontario and went to University. At University he joined the militia, mainly so he and his buddies could ride around in uniforms and carry swords. When the Fenians invade Canada the militia are called into duty with somewhat predictable results. One of the results is that Case is dishonoured. In order to get away from that reputation he joins the North-West Mounted Police and is sent to Cypress Hills. He soon tires of that life and decides he is going to take up ranching near Fort Benton, Montana. Major Walsh of the NWMP has been ordered to share information with his counterpart, Major Ilges, in Fort Benton. The two men are barely on speaking terms so Wesley agrees to act as liaison. In Fort Benton he falls in love with the wife of a local lawyer, Ada Tarr. Lawyer Tarr has been threatened by a disgruntled client and he hires Dunne to protect the family. Ada shows some small kindnesses to Dunne as a result of which he is sure Ada loves him. When Lawyer Tarr dies and leaves Ada with nothing but debts, Dunne and Case each feel sure that soon she will agree to marry. Ada doesn't really want to remarry although she does fall in love with Case. Dunne discovers that Ada and Case are sleeping together and he determines to take Case out of the equation.

Meanwhile, Sitting Bull has fled the USA after the Battle of Little Bighorn. Major Walsh comes to admire Sitting Bull and helps him and his people. The Canadian government doesn't want to be responsible for all these Sioux so Walsh is supposed to persuade them to return to the US but he doesn't think Sitting Bull should return. Case goes to the Cypress Hills with a US committee intent on convincing Walsh to get Sitting Bull back to the States.

With Fenian raids and Indian uprisings and a psychopathic killer this book certainly has its share of violence. But nothing was gratuitous and I'm sure it is reflective of the times. The question arises as to who is the "Good Man" of the title. Is it Wesley Case who has a skeleton in his closet but who seems to genuinely care about his friends? Is it Major Walsh, the career policeman who doesn't care to be dictated to by politicians? Is it Sitting Bull who wants to care for his people and is willing to undergo personal privations in order to do so? It's certainly not Dunne, the man who cold-bloodedly kills a young boy in order to test his resolve.

I loved many of the descriptive passages of the countryside. I looked up information about Fort Benton on the internet and I mean to visit there sometime. Situated on the Missouri river with abundant grassland around it must have been a piece of paradise and maybe you can still see some of that.

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