A 19-year-old widow running through the mountains with two giant twin brothers chasing her. Moonshine, a mining town, American horse thieves, a boxing priest, and lots of guns. Welcome to the Wild West and look out for Sam Steele! Gil Adamson’s novel Outlander (not to be confused with Outlander) was surprisingly good and I am glad I stumbled upon it.
Recently I was involved in a fantastic conversation with my ELA teacher colleagues in the ELA office at the high school where I work. We were talking about the importance of reading with your parents, even as a teen. Then I added the thought: well, why can’t we continue to read with our parents?? I realized that I do read with my parents, and my entire family. My family often talks about books and the books we think are fantastic change hands. Mostly I exchange books with my Dad and my older sister. I think that is is amazing that as adults we can still read together. Just this week, I had a long conversation with my Dad about the book he was reading: a Western. For whatever reason (probably because we spent a lot of time in rural Alberta on a farm), my family (well, my Dad mostly and I) likes Western.
Throughout the story, the main character Mary Bulton often looks back at her life while she was living with her learned father. Many of those memories include reading. In fact, the only thing that Mary brings with her as she flees from her brothers-in-law is her Bible. Not because she is religious, but because she has memories of reading it with her father. Mary feels no regret for killing her husband (hence why her brothers-in-law trail her for months), yet she does regret that she will no longer have the same relationship with her father once he learns that she is a murderer.
In the novel, Mary meets several people along the way who take her in, help her out, and point her in the safe direction. Along the way she meets a man she eventually falls in love with: the Ridgerunner (William Moreland, a man famous for squatting in Ranger Stations and living a hermit life in the mountains). Mary had a husband and a child, yet that husband was useless and now dead and the child died in infancy. Yet when Mary meets the Ridgerunner, the mountain man, she falls in love (something she never thought she would do).
Once the two part ways (on his terms, not hers), she ends up being apprehended by the brothers-in-law and brought into the town jail to await the Circuit Judge. While in this makeshift prison, she discovers that she is pregnant and she yearns to be with the Ridgerunner, the father of her child. Meanwhile, the Ridgerunner is tracking Mary because he realizes he wants to be with her. Well, you can imagine their happy reunion. The Ridgerunner saved Mary’s life as she was lost in the mountains. They set up camp together, yet she did not like him smoking her pipe. As the Ridgerunner decides to break camp and leave Mary on her own, he realizes that he could never be a husband who lives in town and who is stable and able to provide the best for his family. In such a tender and wonderful moment (after so much pain, suffering, and sorrow), the Ridgerunner and Mary show that they belong together: “The Ridgerunner held [the note] to his sleepy eyes and read it, and there he saw what he could not have known were the first two words the widow had ever written. Find me.” (pg. 387). And off they rush to the Yukon.
As the novel ended, I couldn’t help but wonder about a few things. 1.) Would she ever get in touch with her father? Or, will the love of the Ridgerunner take the place of the real relationship she had with her father? 2.) What kind of father will the Ridgerunner end up being? I think that their child would have an interesting life. As Mary muses, “he had accepted [the pregnancy] lightly, as one does who does not fully apprehend the future. No matter, she thought. That was one thing they shared: not knowing” (pg. 384).
Even though this novel was about Mary Bulton’s story and her adventures, I wasn’t left thinking about her advetures as much as I was grateful for the great relationship I have with my Dad. I am a good 10 years older than Mary Bulton, yet I’m still able to sit down and talk books with my father! That being said, I think you should go out and read about her adventures for yourself because it was a page-turner!
“Here was a man who wore his scars on the outside and held a merry heart within. How much better that was than its opposite.” (Gil Adamson)
“Listen with respect to the father who raised you, and when your mother grows old, don’t neglect her. . . So make your father happy! Make your mother proud!” (Proverbs 23:22)