Katherine Govier’s latest historical novel sweeps across the Canadian Rockies and the twentieth century, beginning with an ill-fated expedition out of Gateway, Alberta in 1911. A hundred years later, the purchase of the titular hotel, now run-down and neglected, drives a family to explore a tangled web of hidden stories that go right back to that 1911 journey.
This is a wonderfully evocative novel that explores a piece of Canadian history I didn’t know much about. It’s peopled with larger-than-life, vivid characters who are present in these early years of our Western provinces and National Parks. I found it difficult to adjust to the fact that early in the novel the reader is wrenched away from a point of view character to whom I, at least, had become quite attached — I kept wanting to get back to her perspective, and it took some time to accept that, like the rest of the novel’s characters, there were mysteries I would never get to solve and stories I would never definitively learn the end of.