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Fiction Literary


by (author) Leo Brent Robillard

Turnstone Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2014
Literary, Canada, Historical
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2014
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2011
    List Price

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Paardeberg, South Africa is far from the Canadian prairies. In 1899, best friends from the small town of Portage la Prairie, Will and Mason, sign up with the Winnipeg Rifles” “A” Company to fight in the Second Boer War. Here they meet Robert, the silent anthropologist from Alberta with a mystery he isn—t revealing; Claire, an Australian nurse, chafing under her parents” glass ceiling, who captures Will's heart at first sight; and Campbell Scott, a rebellious veteran with an African wife and a hot air balloon requisitioned by the army for spying.

All are fleeing their former lives but to be free they must face the shattered bodies of war. In the dust and desert of South Africa, they drift towards each other in ways that can spell either disaster or salvation. Different reasons fuel each person's motion: Mason wants to fight in the name of justice, pride, and manliness. Will, hesitant from the start, ultimately learns that war is hell. Claire struggles for independence, and Campbell Scott drowns his disillusions in his wife's potent homebrew.

Drift is about challenging and crossing borders and boundaries between and within countries, races, and individuals. History and fate have some hold over the characters but ultimately they have to make decisions in order to stop drifting. With breathtaking grace, Leo Brent Robillard delivers an unstoppable story.

About the author

Leo Brent Robillard is an author and an educator. His work has appeared in various magazines, journals, and anthologies in Canada and abroad. He is a past recipient of the George Johnston Poetry Prize, the Ray Burell Award for Poetry and the Cold Steel Crime and Mystery Award. He is the author of three Turnstone Press novels Leaving Wyoming, Houdini's Shadow,and Drift. He lives, teaches, and writes in Ontario.

Leo Brent Robillard's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Leo Brent Robillard knows that questions raised by the Boer War are strikingly relevant to our times: are wars waged for political or ethical reasons??to secure diamond and gold mines or to end slavery, to protect oil shipments or to bring democracy” In prose as crisp and bracing as the Great Karoo itself, Drift examines what motivates us to volunteer to fight a war that is not our own, whether it's idealism, escapism, or cynicism, and shows what happens when any ism comes gunsight to gunsight with reality. Robillard gets it, and he gets it right.

Praise for Drift - Wayne Grady

"Drift is a beautifully written story."-- Arlene Smith, Indigo

Arlene Smith, Indigo

"[Robillard's] prose is economical without being sparse....a style somewhat reminiscent of Hemingway, and it suits his subject well."-- Winnipeg Free Press

Winnipeg Free Press

"Robillard's powers of description are poetic, while his action is tight, forceful, compelling....The result is a poignant story of war's reality and what it does to people."-- Brockville Recorder and Times

Brockville Recorder and Times

So often it takes fiction to reveal the truths about our own history. Leo Brent Robillard's Drift puts a human face on the plight of a soldier of the Second Boer War, a young man with A Company of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles the Little Green Devils fighting in a faraway land. Armed with his Lee-Enfield rifle, the Canadian warrior encounters new technology in the form of superior guns and observation balloons. He struggles with both the individuality of his fellow fighters, and the sudden and “incomprehensible anonymity of their deaths. He learns the true cost of victory.

Praise for Drift - rita donovan

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