Heart So Hungry

A Woman's Extraordinary Journey into the Labrador Wilderness

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A gripping cold weather, true-life adventure, Heart So Hungry tells the story of a race across Labrador and one woman’s determination — inspired by grief and fed by outrage — to set the record straight.

A remarkable adventure, a love story and a thrilling race are all front and centre in this account of how one woman’s devotion to her late husband’s memory transformed Mina Hubbard from a rural Ontario nurse into the most celebrated female explorer of her time.

In 1903, following an ambitious expedition to map the interior of Labrador, Mina’s husband, Leonidas, dies of starvation in a cold, boggy, wind-scoured landscape. Allegations surface that the expedition failed because of Hubbard’s incompetence, so Dillon Wallace, Leonidas’ partner on the failed expedition, decides to honour a promise that he made to Hubbard to complete the route that they had been supposed to take. When Mina Hubbard discovers what Wallace has planned, she doubts his motives and decides to mount her own Labrador expedition and to beat Wallace to the finish line. Driven by her devotion, Mina wins the race, beating Wallace by a month and a half, and becomes in the process the first white woman to make contact with the elusive Naskapis Indians.

Using original, unpublished source material, as well as books written by the main actors in the drama, novelist Randall Silvis pieces together a narrative of the race between Wallace and Mina Hubbard, as well as the fateful first expedition of Wallace and Leonidas Hubbard.

From the Hardcover edition.



May 4, 1956

“I am going to explore,” the old woman said. The friend with whom Mina Hubbard was visiting cautioned her not to stay out too long, their midmorning tea would be ready soon. The friend would have preferred that Mina not go out at all, for at eighty-six years old...
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"A work of creative non-fiction at once vivid, comprehensive and compelling."
The Globe and Mail

"By following these mad dreamers into the wilds, and entering into their subjective existences, Silvis recreates what it means to challenge a rugged landscape, evoking the frustration of bogs and swamps and dangerous rapids, the torments of mosquitoes and black flies, and the exhilaration of surmounting a final ridge to stand gazing over a lake that few have ever seen. . . . Heart So Hungry is a notable addition to the literature of northern exploration."
The Globe and Mail

"A seamless, gripping account of three expeditions that rings true on all levels. Silvis expertly weaves together the expeditions."
The Chronicle Herald

"A tale of courage, rivalry and betrayal. . .Conflicts and obstacles abound as the vibrant, succinct narrative portrays the key players in a series of vividly imagined scenes and conversations. Silvis’s skills as a fiction writer breathe new life into the story by creating complex characters that the reader cares about. . . . Silvis’s lively rendering of this course of events celebrates the steely determination of Canada’s first female explorer. It also captures the untamed beauty of Labrador as a place of both danger and intrigue."
Winnipeg Free Press

"Heart So Hungry is a complex love story . . . but it is also a tragedy and an epic. The combination makes for a wonderful tale. Silvis knows how to develop character and craft scenes that draw readers into his story and help them understand the characters’ motives."
Quill & Quire

"Compellingly exciting. . . . For armchair adventure, this is a book that will keep you glued to your rocker until the last lines of Mina’s love."
The Sun Times (Owen Sound)

Praise for Randall Silvis:
"Randall Silvis is this country’s most pitch-perfect stylist, and one of a few writers in his generation who will make a difference."
—Pulitzer Prize nominee William Allen

From the Hardcover edition.