The first time I ever had a love/hate relationship with a book was when I picked up The Northeast Quarter by S.M. Harris. Feelings that started out cold, eventually turned warm as the story sucked me in.
The Northeast Quarter tells the story of the agricultural empire built by Colonel Wallace Carson in 1918. Following his death, his wife, Lady Ann, marries Royce Chamberlin who is ultimately only interested in this union for money and power. What follows is a long, bitter struggle between Chamberlin and the Colonel’s granddaughter, Ann Hardy, who vowed to keep her promise to protect the Northeast Quarter.
This is ultimately a story of revenge. While her family, and the town’s folk, continue to be deceived by Chamberlin, Ann waits for the right time to stand up against the betrayal, banishment and even physical violence she has endured for over ten years. Although the story ends on an absolute thrilling and dramatic note, for me, it was a very slow burner. I spent the first half of the book wondering if it was really for me, and the second half absolutely sucked in.
What helped make the story more intriguing was the introduction of new characters. I don’t think I have read a book with as many unlikable characters, but I actually liked it. They served their purpose and their inclusion certainly helped to tie the entire story together in the end. Without a doubt, though, the main character is Ann Hardy. At the beginning, I certainly wasn’t a fan; for me, it was very hard to believe that a child could be so smart or perceptive. However, I began to admire her somewhat as she grew, as she became stronger and held her own against Chamberlin.
I think I truly began to like Ann when I began to compare her personality with the setting of the book. The Northeast Quarter was set in a time where women did not yet have the vote, when women were expected to sit at home, have no opinion and let the running of things to the men. It is because of female characters like this that I don’t enjoy many of the classics. Ann made the book much more modern than I thought it would be at the start and was a stark contrast to the time she was living in.
Overall, this was a decent and somewhat unique story in comparison to some of the books I have read lately. If you think you can persevere with a somewhat slow burning story, pick up a copy of The Northeast Quarter – you will be rewarded at the end.
I was given an ARC in exchange for an honest review.