Amazing feminist western

Inspired writer, American Anna North is launching this fall Outlaw, a heart-pounding emancipation western that gives pride of place to women, in a completely reimagined historical context. We meet Ava, a young girl on the run who joins a band of outlaws like no other and highly wanted for their crimes, the mysterious Hole in the Wall gang. Fasten your seat belts, it’s going at full gallop.

Towards the end of the 19e century, somewhere in the West, the young Ava goes on the run to save her own skin after being suspected of witchcraft causing infertility. In this society where the Great Flu has decimated the majority of the population, this is a serious problem.

Ava finds refuge in a convent for a while, then joins the mysterious gang of Hole in the Wall, led by Kid, a legendary character. Ava quickly discovers that the gang members do not correspond to the idea that she had made of them. It is actually made up of other women excluded by society, who increasingly distance themselves from gender norms and prefer to live their own way.

Ava, stepping outside the framework usually imposed on women of her time, wasted no time in putting into practice the medical knowledge she had acquired as an apprentice midwife, while taking an interest in the mystery of infertility. .

Reimagining the Wild West

Anna North, journalist at New York Times and successful novelist, wanted to reimagine the Wild West in this original and highly evocative novel. “The book is set in what is now the state of Wyoming and Colorado. I grew up in California and I was nostalgic for the landscapes of the West,” she said in an interview.

A visit to a Shaker village in New Hampshire piqued his curiosity. These religious sects lived apart from society, had their own rules of life and were recognized for the quality of their architecture and their cabinetwork, among other things.

Anna North

Photo provided by Éditions XYZ

“It really marked me: these people did not marry and did not have children. For my part, I had just got married and my husband and I were questioning the time to have children. I have a son now. I was thinking about all the ideas that relate to the family. »

At the same time, she began to read western books, such as comics crazy cat, published in the 1920s. “The Western is often thought of as a typically male literary genre. But it can also be a literary genre that breaks stereotypes. And since I’m from California, it’s easier for me to imagine these landscapes. Everything came together. What did I mean about family, about fertility? Who are my characters? »

Fertility and Infertility

The writer explains that the character of Ada took shape quickly. “This woman arrived ready-made. I found him a voice. I found how she was going to arise in the story and what motivated her. She has this desire to learn and understand her own condition. She is interested in fertility, infertility and wants to acquire medical knowledge to help people. »

Anna North describes the medical knowledge, mores and mentalities of the time in the novel. “I did a lot of research to write this book, like the history of gynecology, knowledge about conception and birth,” she says.

Women who could not give birth were subject to social rejection, for example, and suspicion fell on those who knew too much about reproduction. “My novel is an alternative vision of the American West and I took liberties. »

  • Anna North is a journalist and novelist.
  • She works at New York Times.
  • She has published several other novels in English (The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, America Pacifica).


When Mom trained me, she made me memorize the four stages and the ten stages of childbirth, the seven medicinal herbs and the four phases of the menstrual cycle, before allowing me to accompany her in his visits, simply. One day, I had asked her how she had learned all these ways of healing the body, and she had replied that she had always kept her eyes and ears open, and had never missed an opportunity to learn . Mom didn’t believe in innate talent, she believed in wisdom. »

We want to say thanks to the writer of this write-up for this remarkable material

Amazing feminist western

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