Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Will Cooper was orphaned early in life and had to depend upon the kindness of relatives thereafter. He might have done better to adopt Blache Dubois' creed and rely upon the kindness of strangers. Perhaps he would have fared better.
At the age of twelve, his aunt and uncle essentially sold him to be a "bound boy" to an old gentleman who owned a trading post at the edge of the Cherokee Nation. Will's responsibility was to run the post. He was sent on the road, alone, with just his horse, a key to the post and a map.
He has adventures along the one and during one of them he meets Claire who will be his love for the rest of his life. Eventually, he arrives safely at the post and begins his tour of duty.
He has an aptitude for the work and a facility for working with the Cherokee and developing friendly relations with them. He meets the old chief Bear who becomes his adopted father and the major influence on his life.
This book runs from the early 19th century until the 20th, spanning the long years of Will Cooper's life. He is a witness to history and we see it through his eyes.
Most of all we see the life of the Cherokee and their value system through his eyes.
It is a well-researched book. I found the early parts much more interesting than the later ones. By the last hundred pages I was ready for the book to be over already.
I never did really understand the character of Claire and her relationship with Featherstone (her husband), as opposed to Will, her lover. Claire follows Featherstone to the Indian Territory, while Will and Bear and their people stay behind, and thereafter she appears only sporadically throughout the book. Will continues to love her but finds his pleasure with many women. He lives a much-honored life, makes two fortunes, and in the end, is waiting for death.
It is an interesting tale, though slow moving at times. The descriptions of landscape brought back memories from my own childhood in a land not far from the Cherokee Nation. It is very evocative of the true nature of the region.
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