While many people dream of abandoning civilization and heading into the wilderness, few manage to actually do it. One exception was twenty-four-year-old Elliot Merrick, who in 1929 left his advertising job in New Jersey and moved to Labrador, one of Canada's most remote regions. First published by Schribner's in 1933, True North tells the captivating story of one of the high points of Merrick's years there: a hunting trip he and his wife, Kay, made with trapper John Michelin in 1930. Covering 300 miles over a harsh winter, they experienced an unexplored realm of nature at its most intense and faced numerous challenges. Merrick accidentally shot himself in the thigh and almost cut off his toe. Freezing cold and hunger were constant. Nonetheless the group found beauty and even magic in the stark landscape. The couple and the trappers bonded with each other and their environment through such surprisingly daunting tasks as fabricating sunglasses to avoid snow blindness and learning to wash underwear without it freezing. Merrick's intimate style, rich with narrative detail, brings readers into a dramatic story of survival and shares the lesson the Merrick's leaned: that the greatest satisfaction in life can come from the simplest things.
True North is a wonderful memoir, recounting the author's travels in the wild and wonderful Canadian wilderness, I was riveted throughout the book. Whether the author was, quite seriously, discussing methods of underwear washing (hilarious) or describing the instances when everyone wanted to break camp but wouldn't admit to it, you are kept thoroughly entertained. One of my favorite aspects of True North was the author's wife, Kay. She was an absolute rock. She wasn't a woman obnoxiously having to point out and prove that she can hack it along side the men, but neither was she some complaining damsel in distress. She was just a solid travelling companion, working hard and pulling her weight. Of course, no wilderness book would be complete with out the requisite discussing of the tough times with a backdrop of the magical and majestic wilderness in contrast. True North does not disappoint in this area. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, filled with beautiful narrative. Here is a tiny little excerpt, from page 296:
"We lay our fingers in the water and dig our bare feet deeper into the sand to be closer to the earth's heart, we love it so. And a feeling of gladness and sorrow comes over the water to us like a wave: gladness that the earth is so free and wide and life-giving and generous; sorrow that so many millions of men are unhappy, neither knowing nor caring for these things."
Being an outdoorsy person myself, I rate this book a 2, Borders with a Coupon, if you are not outdoorsy, I'd give this book a slightly lower rating, still enjoyable, but not to the same extent.
Do you agree with my review? Do you think I'm totally off base? Either way I'd love to hear from you, be sure to leave a comment and tell me how you feel!
***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***
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