Wednesday, June 16, 2010

True North

Elliot Merrick

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.

My Take:

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!

If this book were a movie, it would likely be rated PG

***FTC Disclosure:  This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

If you are interested in purchasing True North, please consider supporting The Book Buff by purchasing from the following Amazon link, thanks!


Usha said...

Why? Why? Your giveaways are limited to the US. sobs...more sobbing...

Nevertheless, the review was great.


Tracy said...

I love travel books, I'm reading a book about somewhere a tad further North than Labrador at the moment, The Magnetic North, travels in the Arctic by Sara Wheeler, so this book sounds like the perfect next read! Great review!

Jodi said...

This reminds me of the book Mrs. Mike about the wife of a Mounty. Incidentally, love your Book Buff button.

mangiabella said...

LOVE your blog! thanks for the helping hand on momblggers, it can be overwhelming and I am a relatively new blogger arriving on the scene! I just became your follower :) and would love to have you follow me on my journey at - have a glorious day sweet bella

Jen said...

What a great review. I'm adding it to my TBR list.

Jessie said...

I'm following you from 20SB.
Feel free to check out my blog at and follow me back :)


Julie Kieras said...

I love that you say what "movie rating" the book would get - that really helps me get a picture of the type of content I might expect without you needing to go into gory details!:)

Julie Kieras said...

I follow you on Twitter!

balancejoyanddelicias said...

just stopping by to say hi~ I love reading books too so I guess I'll be check your blog often! :)

Meg said...

I follow your blog!

Meg said... Well, I just stumbled upon your blog, and I'd have to say the only constructive criticism I would have to offer is that maybe you could make your blog's reading area a little wider. Everything seems a bit scrunched together. Otherwise, everything is organized REALLY well, and it's really easy to find the types of reviews I like. Your blog is great. Thanks for the chance to win this book!

The Book Buff said...

@ Meg, I totally agree, I'd love to expand the reading section but don't know how :( If anyone can clue me in, please feel free to do so! Gracias!

-Kate the Book Buff

windycindy said...

I just received your invite to check out your blog. I love it...
I am an avid reader of all types
of books and magazines!
Thanks, Cindi

windycindy said...

Again, many thanks!

windycindy said...

"Facebook Share!"!/cindi512?v=wall&story_fbid=132052803498791.
Merci, Cindi

windycindy said...

Also, I follow your blog via Google
Many thanks to you...Cindi

Tina Peterson said...

Posted The Book Buff Button on my left sidebar.

Tina "The Book Lady"

Tina Peterson said...

I love your blog. I like the level of variety and I also really like that you give a rating on your books. I like knowing if a book is going to have a lot of language, blood & gore, etc.

This is my Mandatory entry.

Tina "The Book Lady"

Tina Peterson said...

I blogged about the giveaway too -

ElizOF said...

Your review made me want to read the book. It must have been incredibly challenging to make such a trip in 1929. I also liked the lesson learned; simplicity. What a powerful thought.
Thank you!

aupairsalon said...

Will retweet your giveaway, not enough of a reader to participate... although LOVE reading on Kindle and hope following you will inspire me to read more... Great blog!

aupairsalon said...

Will retweet your giveaway, not enough of a reader to participate... although LOVE reading on Kindle and hope following you will inspire me to read more... Great blog!

Penny Ann said...

I really like that you're honest about your reviews of books. One thing that might be improved is just adding more books that you review. The more the merrier. Keep it up.

Aik said...

Post The Book Buff Button on your sidebar - DONE

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Aik said...

I enjoy reading your reviews. They are very informative. I would like your blog better if changes are made on the blog template.

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Aik said...

I'm a follower of The Book Buff.

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Aik said...

Tweet the giveaway:

aikychien at yahoo dot com


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