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The Right of Way

Gilbert Parker

Book Overview: 

Charley Steele is a successful and brilliant Canadian lawyer. He has a nagging wife, Kathleen, and a lazy brother-in- law, Billy. In spite of his success, he is disillusioned with his life, drinks too much, and is deeply troubled by his agnosticism which leads to trouble and confusion. When Billy embezzles money, Charley discovers the theft and sets out to make things right. Charley however, ends up in a waterfront saloon where he encounters a barroom brawl and becomes unconscious. Charley loses his memory and ends up in the Canadian Northwoods where he falls in love with a pretty postmistress, Rosalie. He finds he is perfectly content with his "new" life but when his memory returns, he is deeply disturbed by his past and ponders whether to return to his old life to make amends. Mystery, romance, and intrigue are interwoven throughout the novel.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Vadrome Mountain passed without questioning on the part of either Charley Steele or his host.

With good reason. Jo Portugais saw that memory was gone; that the past was blotted out. He had watched that first terrible struggle of memory to reassert itself, as the eyes mechanically looked out upon new and strange surroundings, but it was only the automatic habit of the sight, the fumbling of the blind soul in its cell-fumbling for the latch which it could not find, for the door which would not open. The first day on the raft, as Charley had opened his eyes upon the world again after that awful night at the Cote Dorion, Jo. had seen that same blank uncomprehending look—as it were, the first look of a mind upon the world. This time he saw, and understood what he saw, and spoke as men speak, but with no knowledge or memory behind it—only the involuntary action of muscle and mind repeated from the vanished past.

Charley Steele was as a little c. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Charley "Beauty" Steel is a Canadian lawyer with a weakness for alcohol. A visit to a seedy out-of-the-way pub gets Charley involved in a brawl. The resulting injury to his head causes amnesia. After several missing months he regains his memory only to learn everyone thinks he was killed in the figh

I will never know why this musty old book (copyright 1901) came to hand. The first time, it was in a stack of titles the public library had on reserve for me. The others, I had requested. This one I'd never heard of. I did open it up and read a couple chapters, but had other commitments and so retur