Scribner. Jun. 2016. 736p. ISBN 9780743288781. $32; ebk. ISBN 9781476771823. F
René Sel and Charles Duquet arrive in New France in the 1600s, penniless woodcutters bound to a seigneur (feudal lord), longing for freedom. Duquet escapes to Boston then Amsterdam while Sel is forced to marry Mari, a Mi'kmaw servant. Pulitzer Prize-winning Proulx (The Shipping News; Brokeback Mountain) traces the interconnected Sel and Duquet families through the centuries. Charles changes his surname to Duke and adopts three orphans in addition to having a son, Outger, with his wife, Cornelia. The disappearance of Charles and news of Beatrix—a daughter of Outger living in the Duquet homestead on Penobscot Bay with Kuntaw Sel, grandson of René—galvanizes the adopted sons to subdue a métis claim to fortune. Jinot Sel, who suffers at logging camps in Maine and New Brunswick, finds an enigmatic benefactor. Headstrong Lavinia Duke relocates the business from Boston to Chicago in the 1880s and marries rival Dieter Breitsprecher. Then Dieter's children sell the company after World War II. The Sels dwindle on reservations, wistfully watching their disappearing culture, unaware of their kin. In Proulx's telling, their stories come alive. 
VERDICT Proulx's intricate, powerful meditation on colonialism is both enthralling and edifying, each chapter building to the moving finale.
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