All True Not a Lie in It by Alix Hawley
Knopf Canada, February 10, 2015.
384 pages, 29,95$.
Alix Hawley’s debut novel All True Not a Lie in It examines the life and trials of Daniel Boone in a new light. The author tells us the story of the mythic figure with such raw, powerful emotions and vivid details you’ll trick yourself into thinking it is a true narrative. In fact, this book interweaves the concepts of truth, fiction, facts, and imaginings so tightly they become indistinguishable from one another.
Daniel grew up in a Quaker community. He yearned for the American Dream —for his piece of paradise. He admired his older brother and followed in his footsteps by adopting the lifestyle of the First Nations people. He escaped in the wilderness of the American frontier for years. As a wild youth. As a newly married man. As a white man warned by the Shawnee to leave their land alone.
I travel all through the forest whenever the weather is warm, and I hunt through the autumns and winters. I bring the meat to my family, I sell the hides down in Salisbury. Selling the hides takes the shine from it. The traders’ fingers are blunt and unseeing. If there were a way, I would slap the skins back on the carcasses and send the creatures off, to have more to catch again. Selling them does bring me plenty of money, enough to bring home and keep some over. I buy a new gun. I am fond of money. And I wish for more than I have. More of everything.
The first-person narration makes you feel like you are in the thick of the action at Daniel’s side. Or better yet, in his mind. A wizened Daniel recounts his life story the ghost of his past. You’ll ache when he shares his losses and regrets. His dry humour will make you chuckle. Always, he will make you ache to learn what happens next.
Hawley brings the 1700’s to life with gorgeous prose and keen insight. My one complaint: I wanted the story to go on. The novel doesn’t cover the entire 86 years of Daniel Boone’s life. The author could have kept my undivided attention for another 300 pages. Knopf Canada is marketing Alix Hawley as the “new face of fiction” —a bold, on-the-mark statement I will second any day.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*