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Cather wrote Shadows on the Rock immediately after her other historical masterpiece, Death Comes to the Archbishop. Like its predecessor, this novel of seventeenth-century Quebec is a luminous evocation of North American origins, and of the men and women who struggled to adapt to that new world even as they clung to the artifacts and manners of the one they left behind. Cather tells the story of Cecile Auclair, a twelve-year-old living in Quebec in 1697. As Cather follows this devout and resourceful child over the course of a year, she re-creates the continent as it must have appeared to its first European inhabitants.