… The Orenda, Joseph Boyden’s story of the trials, tribulations and struggles of a Wendat (Huron) tribe in southwestern Ontario in the seventeenth century. The novel features three voices — Bird, a warrior elder; Snow Falls, an Iroquois girl he takes as a hostage and adopts as a daughter; and Christophe Crow, a Jesuit missionary who brings both Christian faith and devastating plague to the native community. It was the unanimous choice of the four Shadow Jury members.
I’ve included both the Canadian and UK covers in this post because I think they illustrate two quite different (and legitimate) responses which the cover designers had to the book. While it is hard to see in the electronic version, those are birch trees on the Canadian cover — nature as both a nurturing and threatening force is very much a character in this novel. The UK designer, on the other hand, opted for a dualistic image that portrays both a warrior face and the metaphorical crow of the Jesuit — a stuffed raven also features as an orenda that Snow Falls finds in her search acknowledging her arriving womanhood, so this version captures images for all three voices.
As Giller followers know, The Orenda will not be winning the Real Giller — for the first time in its 19-year history, the Shadow Giller Jury opted to call-in a title that was not on the official Giller shortlist. Both Kim and Alison had read Boyden’s novel before the shortlist was announced and felt strongly that it should be included; Trevor and Kevin were eager to add it into our consideration.
That late addition means only Kim and I have posted a review at this date — you can find Kim’s here and mine here. Trevor’s should be posted in a few days (I’ll amend this post with links when it is up).
Some summary thoughts about The Orenda from Shadow jury members:
With six titles on our shortlist, this year I asked each of the jurors to take 120 points and spread them across the six books. Here were our results:
1. Trevor: The Orenda, Boyden 34; The Crooked Maid, Vyleta 27; Cataract City, Davidson 21; Caught Moore 17; Hellgoing, Coady 16; Going Home Again, Bock 5.
2. Kevin: Boyden 30, Vyleta 24, Davidson 21, Bock 17, Coady 14, Moore 14.
3. Kimbofo: Boyden 50, Vyleta 30, Bock 15, Davidson 12, Coady 8, Moore 5.
4. Alison: Boyden 40, Vyleta 30, Davidson 15, Moore 15, Bock 10, Coady 10
5. Total: Boyden 154, Vyleta 111, Davidson 69, Moore 52, Coady 48, Bock 47
1. Trevor: Vyleta 33, Davidson 25, Moore 19, Coady 18, Bock 5.
2. Kevin: Vyleta 30, Davidson 24, Bock 18, Coady 14, Moore 14
3. Kimbofo: Vyleta 40, Bock 20, Davidson 17, Coady 13, Moore 10
4. Alison: Vyleta 30, Davidson 20, Moore 20, Bock 15, Coady 15
5. Total: Vyleta 133, Davidson 86, Moore 63, Coady 60, Bock 58
Summary comments for Dan Vyleta’s The Crooked Maid:
Kim, Trevor and I have all reviewed The Crooked Maid — you can find links in the side bar on the right.
And so all that remains now is to sit back and await the Real Jury decision from a list that we obviously felt missed the best book. I speak for all four of us in saying that we felt this year’s Giller reading was much better than last year’s — there may have been stronger long and short lists in the Giller’s 20 year history, but this one is a vintage that can hold its head high.
Finally, again from all four of us, our thanks to all who followed our deliberations. We look forward to next year.