Joseph had heard stories of camps where men spent eight hours a day clearing brush and piling stones. The workers could have been employed productively, cutting timber to make houses for the poor, or constructing public buildings, but for the fact that some big contractor or lumber company with political connections would raise a stink. Free labour would kill their businesses. The rich knew how to stick together.Kindle location 1775I remember my dad telling stories about his uncles getting work with the W.P.A., and I always love seeing the results of those projects when I visit National Parks in the US. The book made me think about how bad the situation must have been for the government to have taken such extraordinary steps to put people to work. Joseph soon finds that the little town retains its Wild West character, with a crooked mayor, divided loyalties and a deep hatred of outsiders that constantly threaten to undermine his chance at a new life. But it’s also home to a group of industrious free spirits who are making the best out of a very bad situation, finding fun, food and fellowship whenever and wherever they can. The supporting cast brought Prendergast’s novel to life for me: Beth Hoogaboom, the rowdy dry goods store owner; Police Chief Montgomery Quentin, who knows the dark side of the mayor’s policies, but remains under his thumb to keep his job; and Tom Wah, a Chinese immigrant fearful of losing the family he has built in Canada to the town’s bigotry. I also loved the intimate way the Prendergast brought us into the lifeworld of the Canadian plains, with black blizzards and freezing temperatures and lots and lots of gophers. Dinner with Lisa was a surprising title. I sat down to read it and didn’t put it down until I finished. Prendergast is a new author to me, but I will definitely seek out more of his work. This is highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction, Canadian fiction, and fiction with Western themes. I read this book as part of a Premier Virtual Author Book Tour, and received a copy of the book in return for my honest opinion. For other opinions, check out the links here. This is another hit for the Historical Fiction 2012 Challenge hosted by Historical Tapestry. Looks like there is little chance of me not finishing that one!