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2017 Man Booker Shortlist: History of Wolves

Over the past month, our panel has been giving their thoughts on each of the nominated shortlist books. We tell you briefly what we think of the book, the reasons we think it might win, and the reasons why it might not win. Next up is History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. Keep reading to see what we think about whether it will be our 2017 Man Booker winner.

The History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
Published:  (US publication date): January 2017
Our Panel’s full reviews: History of Wolves
Find it/buy it here: History of Wolves

Amazon Synopsis: Fourteen-year-old Linda lives with her parents in the beautiful, austere woods of northern Minnesota, where their nearly abandoned commune stands as a last vestige of a lost counter-culture world. Isolated at home and an outlander at school, Linda is drawn to the enigmatic, attractive Lily and new history teacher Mr. Grierson. When Mr. Grierson is charged with possessing child pornography, the implications of his arrest deeply affect Linda as she wrestles with her own fledgling desires and craving to belong.

And then the young Gardner family moves in across the lake and Linda finds herself welcomed into their home as a babysitter for their little boy, Paul. It seems that her life finally has purpose but with this new sense of belonging she is also drawn into secrets she doesn’t understand. Over the course of a few days, Linda makes a set of choices that reverberate throughout her life. As she struggles to find a way out of the sequestered world into which she was born, Linda confronts the life-and-death consequences of the things people do—and fail to do—for the people they love.

Jen’s Thoughts: I enjoyed the book and thought it was well written but for me it was a solid book and nothing more. There was nothing that stood out to me as really special, unique, or award worthy about it.
Why it could win: I don’t think this stands a chance at winning but then again, I didn’t think it would stand a chance at the shortlist. If I was forced to pick reasons for its potential win, I’d say that it’s beautifully written and captures the essence of isolation and loneliness.
Why it might not win: It’s a debut novel and up against some dazzling novels. I don’t think it holds up well to the other candidates which are, for the most part, wholly creative and also brilliantly written.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed this sinisterly atmospheric book however I don’t think it will win.
Why it could win: Story of an isolated community, beautifully written, controversy surrounding religion vs parenting.
Why it might not win: It’s a character-driven, coming of age novel where not a lot actually happens and what does happen is history not an event built up to.

Nicole’s Thoughts: I adored the writing and was super satisfied with the story.  Interesting subject matter.
Why it could win: The writing.
Why it might not win:  I don’t think it will, and as much as I loved it, don’t think it deserves to.  Just doesn’t hold up next to the other nominees.

Anita’s Thoughts: This book is arguably the most underrated of the long list.  Was the plot good?  Well not really, but the use of the language was really strong.  I loved how Fridlund developed suspense, and honestly, I think a lot of writing talent was on display here.
Why It Could Win: Who wouldn’t want to take credit for launching the next Donna Tartt?
Why It Might Not Win: It’s a debut novel, and the plotting really feels like it is a debut novel.

Andrew’s thoughts: An engaging and entertaining, if ultimately depressing, account of a lost soul looking for a home. Along with “Autumn,” one of my favorite books on the list. I enjoyed the jumbled timelines and intertwining storylines that let the reader slowly put the pieces of Maddie/Linda’s life story together. As someone suspicious of organized religion, I also enjoyed the parallels between “cults” and religion.
Why it could win: I’m not sure it can or will. While it’s a great read, I’m not sure what separates this book from the field. It does, however, have the most well-developed characters and plot of any of the books I’ve read on this year’s list.
Why it might not win: It’s a fairly “conventional” novel. Without giving too much of the plot away, I can see how the author’s take on particular religions could be off-putting. As I mentioned above, a certain sect of Christianity is portrayed as little more than a cult.

We want to hear from you. Have you read it? What did you think? Do you think it will win the 2016 Man Booker?

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for the review. As ever – very useful. I won’t be going out of my way to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 11, 2017
  2. Tracy S #

    The writing was haunting, and this is an author who will do more great books. But I think this would be a long shot for the prize this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 12, 2017
    • I agree, I will be looking out for more of her books


      October 12, 2017
    • Anita #

      Agree with your comment completely . . .I loved her voice and the writing itself (meaning the crafting of the sentences). But don’t expect her to win.


      October 15, 2017
  3. Im still not convinced I want to read this one …


    October 13, 2017
  4. I thought I probably would read this. Anita and Andrew have convinced me with their further thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 15, 2017
    • Anita #

      I’d love to hear your thoughts, Jan! Hope you will come back and share them (and hope you do like it!).


      October 15, 2017

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