I’ve avoided reading James Fenimore Cooper for a long time. I don’t know if it was the subject matter, the age of the texts, or the daunting length of the novels, but until now, I’d never cracked open anything of his.
It took me a few weeks to get through The Last of the Mohicans, but when I finally finished it, only one thought ran through my mind:
WHAT DID I JUST READ.
I actually had to have Wikipedia help me with the plot, because I got SO CONFUSED. I have never read any of the Leatherstocking Tales, but I do know that Natty Bumpo is a central figure. So when the novel kept referring to him as “the scout” or “Hawk-eye,” or (my favorite) “La Longue Carabine,” I wanted to shout, “WHO THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?”
*This might be the time to mention that I’ve never seen the movie, either. So I really had NO IDEA what was going on while I was reading.*
And then things happen suddenly and all at once, and then we’re spending chapters upon chapters wandering through the forest without any seeming aim or purpose or direction, and I kept flipping back and re-reading and losing my place and getting bored, because NOTHING HAPPENS for like 40 pages, and then you have this massacre happening randomly in about 2 or 3 pages total.
The story itself, boiled down and summarized is actually really interesting and tragic: it’s about the wars between the French and the British in 1757, and the Native Americans who get caught up in the guerrilla warfare, most often to their own peril and the demise of their way of life. The Munro sisters are trying to make their way to their father, one of the British generals at Fort William, when several misadventures befall their party, and Natty Bumpo-Hawkeye-etc. tries to keep them safe. There’s also a way less interesting love story between the younger sister Alice and the soldier Duncan Heyward. The older sister Cora is interesting and strong and tragic, but Alice? She’s a bit too sparklepony for my taste.
Like, she cries all.the.time. About everything. If she were Taylor Swift, she would have written a song about all the bad things that happened to her and become a platinum artist.
Alas, she just gets kidnapped–through no fault of her own, I admit.
**I should also add that sparklepony is my term for any young person who is perhaps sparkly, emotional, just overflowing with muchness? It’s hard to describe. Mostly, I just refer to Taylor Swift as Taylor Sparklepony.**
Anyway, I won’t spoil the end for you, but there *is* a bit where there’s masquerading as a bear in an attempt to rescue Alice. I can’t decide whether it’s hilarious or ridiculous, but it tickled me, nonetheless.
Well played, Mr. Cooper. Well played.