Candlwick Press

February 2008

$19.95 AU

512p pb

ISBN: 978-0763632885

fp August 2004

New Found Land: Lewis and Clark's Voyage Of Discovery

Allan Wolf

from Candlewick Press...

Two hundred years ago, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark launched their wooden boats up the Missouri River in search of the illusory Northwest Passage, a journey that would capture the American imagination and help forge a young nation's identity. Now, in a riveting debut novel, Allan Wolf tells the story of this extraordinary voyage through the eyes of not only the famed pair but also several members of their self-named Corps of Discovery. Here, in powerful, lyrical language, is a medley of voices from a surprisingly diverse crew -- from the one-eyed French Indian fiddler who pilots the boats to Clark's African American slave; from the young Shoshone woman who has a baby en route to Lewis's Newfoundland dog, a "seer" whose narrative resonates long after the book is closed.

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New Found Land is a mammoth of a verse novel and a very rewarding read. It describes the journey of a group of courageous American explorers who set out to cross the continent in 1804. Their mission  was "to explore the Missouri River...and discover the most direct and practicable all water route across the continent to the waters of the Pacific Ocean (the so called Northwest Passage) for the purposes of commerce." (p.11). Leading this expedition, which lasted over two years, were Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. The mission started at  Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania travelling along the Ohio River, reaching a crew of 45 by the time the expedition reached St Charles, Missouri in May 1804. Most of the travel to the Pacific Ocean was by water. This book details this famed expedition. It is told over seven parts, through 13  voices. Each section begins with a two page map which shows the section travelled, states crossed, rivers, American Indian nations and so forth.

The style used to convey this story, verse and a range of voices, allows for a realistic feel to this voyage into the unknown. Despite the number of voices the story flows smoothly and each character is prefaced with a descriptor to lessen any confusion (eg York - the slave; Patrick Gass - the carpenter etc). Along the journey many American Indian nations are encountered and you see clearly the historical attitudes to these people; similarly to York, the 'black slave'. This book is an engrossing read and the narrative is kept together effectively by the entries from Oolum, Merriwether Lewis' newfoundland dog called Seaman (Oolam being his true name). You get to know and enjoy the various characters in this story and the end section, 'Notes', details the extensive research undertaken to write this book. Few liberties were taken and most of what is read is historically accurate. A fascinating and informative read!

Stephen, Canberra, Australia

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