In 1750, Thomas Gunn, along with three friends, join the Hudson's Bay Company and sail from Stromness on the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland to York Factory fort on Hudson's Bay. They believe they are starting a new and exciting life in what is called Rupert's Land, but tragedy follows them, striking for the first time on the ship. At the fort Thomas finds his older brother, Edward, who had joined four years earlier. He also meets Little Bird, sister of Edward's wife, and her family.
I can't imagine many boys at fifteen years of age leaving their families to go work overseas in a foreign land on the other side of the world for five years. Yet they did in the 1700's. So begins Thomas Gunn's journey into manhood. Meanwhile native girl, Little Bird, is old enough to become married and must begin picking a husband soon and starting her family, only none of the native men appeal to her. So begins the love between these two, what we would call kids today, but back then were already adults in a harsh world that left no room for the weak. Joan does excellent at portraying the two very different worlds, both long gone and the bitter reality of the 1700's and even better at the blossoming love between Little Bird and Thomas. A must read for historical buffs, be prepared to be thrust into a past that created strong characters, where survival was never remotely guaranteed and where finding your true love even harder.