Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review: The Survivor by Paul Almond

Publisher: McArthur and Co
Pages: 160
Source Publisher

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed, enthralling historical read this series is for you.  The Alford Saga is a series that covers Canadian history like no other.  Paul Almond introduced his reader’s to Thomas Manning in The Deserter, a young man who jumped ship hoping to build a better life and future in the New World, a man who risked everything to chase a dream. In The Survivor Thomas Manning has survived a drastic, impossible winter and must pick up the pieces and start over once again. Life in the New World is difficult, unfair, and harsh. Only a few pages in and Thomas Manning is running for his life when a forest fire breaks out in his vicinity. His wife Magwes, a Micmac woman dies in childbirth, delivering a healthy son. The Micmac tribe has taken over care of his son and Thomas decides he must move on. Thomas continues to dream of becoming a self-made settler, with a cabin in the woods-miles away from any settlers, he dreams of cultivating a farm on this rich, fertile, crown land. In order to pursue his dream and remain free from the British he adopts a new name and becomes James Alford.  Moving forward, James seeks out employment and visits old acquaintances and unexpectedly feels a connection with their oldest daughter Catherine. Catherine was left pining away for James when he left last time. Catherine is now betrothed to Billy Brotherton, a despicable man who has ties in the mill business.  Soon James is working at the mill, hoping for nothing more than a meal a day and wondering if Catherine is thinking about him. When her parents hear of James’ heroic good deeds, they agree to allow them to marry when their love is incontestable. Catherine agrees to move miles and miles away from her family, and all other settlers, alone in the woods helping to James build his dream. While life is difficult and frustrating, James has many hidden secrets from Catherine that threatens their relationship.

The Survivor is detailed, dramatic, entertaining and addicting. This book surpassed my expectations, and I’m waiting impatiently for book 3 The Pioneer due to come out this fall. When historical fiction is written well, you will be absorbed in it and unknowingly learn it. I stand by my earlier statement that this needs to be placed into the hands of every young student learning about Canadian History. Learning the facts in a text book is one thing, but living the life through a work of fiction is a completely different experience. Readers will live the life of a deserter, a man with aspirations, and a man who faces the biggest, unpredictable obstacle-mother nature. These novels are written with significant insight into the lives of the settlers, the Micmac people, and history of the Gaspe area. Have I persuaded you yet? This is a must read, and a 2011 favorite read. 


  1. Sounds great! I'll have to see if I can get my hands on the first book in the trilogy!

  2. Just started following. I read your profile and I have a lot of the same mannerisms when it comes to books. no turned down pages and always take the jackets off my hardbacks. Great blog!

  3. A book that exceeds your expectations is a treasure for sure!!

  4. Sounds really good! Not sure if I've ever read any historicals set in Canada. Thanks for the review!

  5. Another winning book from Almond - good things come from Gaspe :)