“Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden (Canada)
It is 1919 and Niska, the last Canadian medicine woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relative, is gravely wounded and addicted to the army’s morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to take Xavier back to his home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Canada, their respective stories emerge – stories of Niska’s life amongst her kin and Xavier’s horrifying experiences in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme. Niska realises that in the aftermath of war, Xavier’s soul is hovering somewhere between the worlds of the living and the dead – but will the three-day journey home be enough to save him? … Read more
… in this world of hardship we must grasp the moments that are offered to us.
At 432 pages, this was the second shortest of the 6 Big Books from my reading list and one of the easiest to read thanks to its engaging writing style. The story is told in first-person narrative from the alternating point-of-view of the two protagonists, Niska and Xavier. Its use of flashback fills us in on both their pasts and kept me turning the pages until the end. I found it a heartbreakingly good read.
Big Books Challenge 2014 reading list
There were some books in my to-read pile that I’d been putting off reading for years because they are over 400 pages long. So one of the reading resolutions I set myself for 2014 was to choose six of them to read that year (one every 2 months). And I did it; I cracked their spines and finished them all! The 6 books were:
“I Am A Cat” by Soseki Natsume (Japan) – 470 pages
“Wizard of the Crow” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o (Kenya) – 766 pages
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) – 422 pages
“Three Day Road” by Joseph Boyden (Canada) – 432 pages
“No Man’s Land” by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam) – 450 pages
“A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry (India) – 614 pages