Shadows on the Rock is a slice of life novel, that slice comprising a year in the life of Euclide Auclair, an apothecary in the city of Quebec in and his daughter Cecille, beginning in 1697. The year in the city of the time was apparently marked by the arrival and departure of ships from France bearing supplies, people and news from home. One theme that it definitely shares with the earlier books is that of people in a rough remote setting who have to make do for themselves. It also shares a mistrust of indiginous people which it’s hard to know whether to attribute to the characters, the author or both. I suspect both. It’s a hard life there on the rock (the cliff that comprises the city) and it narrates what happens to the Auclairs and their various neighbors. It seems like a fundamentally kind novel.Cecille is pious almost to the point of naivete, and yet is not off-putting at all. She, twelve herself, cares for another, younger child in need there, among other things convincing a bishop to buy him shoes. The biggest character arc is that of a self inflated bishop revealed to have been humbled in a fifteen-years-later epilogue.
Despite its relative lack of drama the book was compulsively readable. I found myself won over by it while not entirely understanding why. I would still cite My Antonia as my favorite among Cather’s works, leaving open the possibility that the Song of the Lark, Death Comes for the Archbishop, or My Mortal Enemy could supplant it upon rereading. But I will likely return to this one as well.
Recommended bordering on Highly Recommended.
Owned But Previously Unread 2020 37/75