The Order of Good Cheer
By Bill Gaston
House of Anansi Press, Paperback, 9780887848162, 390pp.
Publication Date: September 2009
List Price: $15.95*
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A fascinating yet little-known figure in North American history, the French explorer and mapmaker Samuel de Champlain was the subject of a recent best-selling biography by historian David Hackett Fischer. The Order of Good Cheer, a highly readable novel by master storyteller Bill Gaston, offers a beautifully shaded, fictionalized portrait of Champlain, as well as a marvelous window into Canadian culture past and present. In 1607, Champlain and his companions struggled to establish a French colony on foreign soil while warding off scurvy. Separated by the breadth of a continent and exactly 400 years is 21st-century blue-collar worker Andy Winslow and his friends, whose urban landscape is threatened by encroaching environmental and economic disaster. In alternating narratives, Gaston bridges the divide across land and time in this illuminating story about survival, love, feast, and friendship.