Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Galore by Michael Crummey

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on June 27, 2010
Posted in Books Read in 2010Canada  | 7 Comments

It’s sometime in the early 19th century, Newfoundland in a small fishing village called Paradise Deep. The village is anything but paradise and times are tough. The fish are no longer biting and a whale has beached on shore. There is no way to save the whale and the hungry villagers are waiting for it to die before they carve it up and portion it out. They will also harvest the oil for their lamps.

The whale finally dies and the villagers are carving away when all of a sudden a man pours out of its stomach. At first he appears to be dead but then it is discovered that he is alive. The Devine Widow is a healer and midwife and takes him home to nurse him. He is washed but no matter how many times he is washed he still stinks like dead fish. The other family members insist that he is kept in the shed.
He is mute but after a short time, healthy. They decide to call him Judah. many of the villagers decided that it is Judah brought them bad luck and that is why the fish left. They go after him but the widow has him hide.
The next day a bunch of the fisherman go out to try to catch some fish. They are desperate and feel it is they duty to try even though they now they will fail. They start rowing out but can’t figure out where that nasty “dead fish” smell is coming from, when all of a sudden Judah comes out from under their gear. They decide it’s too far to row back to shore and give Judah a turn at the oars. The men still call him “stranger”.
Judah puts a line out and the fisherman think he’s crazy they way he is doing it. However, “The stranger struck in then, hauling the line hand over hand, arms straining with the weight. The first pale glove of flesh let loose a pulse of oily ink as it broke the surface.” Its squid, so many squid. The men fill up their boat and then hand of the line of squid to the next boat, and the next boat, until they couldn’t carry any more. They discover that Judah is good luck, after all. After that they insist that he go with them every day they fish and then the cod start biting again.
This is a multi generational historical fiction saga. It chronicles two rival families, the rich Sellers family that pretty much owns the town and the Devine family, who try to scratch a living from fishing. When Judah is discovered from the whale, Mary Tryphena Devine is only nine years old. When she become of marriage age, she turns down every possible suitor, holding out hope that her secret love, Absalom Sellers will come back home and ask for her hand despite the rivalry between families. Mary Tryphena is finally talked into marrying Judah, to save him from King-Me Sellers.
Though Mary can’t stand the smell of him, they consummate the marriage, in the shed and then Tryphena goes back to the house. Nine months later she has their son, Patrick. Later they have another son, Henley but is he really Judah’s?
In part two of the book, Mary Tryphina is an old woman and still married to Judah, who still lives in the shed. The book goes on to follow her, her children, and her grandchildren, as well as the Sellers family.
I am a big fan of Michael Crummey. I absolutely loved the River Thieves and really enjoyed his follow up book, The Wreckage. He was born and raised in Newfoundland and it’s the setting for his books. He took a departure from his usual writing style with Galore and I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy it as much as his other works. He used a lot of folklore and some magical realism.
I am not a fan of magical realism at all. However, when I found out the Michael Crummy was finally coming to Vancouver (a friend of mine and I kept bugging the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival until they finally invited him) I had to buy Galore to get it signed. (See my meeting Michael Crummey post.)
That was back in October and now I finally got to read it. I was quite surprised by it. Even though I usually have a very strong dislike for magical realism, I actually liked this book. Though those parts were not my favourite by any stretch, Crummey is such a gifted writer that I was able to lose myself in the story. He has such strong character development and let me tell you, there were a lot of characters. His poetic prose from his other books was still there and pulled me in. I wonder what his next book will bring?
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Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Summer Before the Storm by Gabriele Wills

Posted by Teddyrose@1 on May 1, 2010
Posted in CanadaHistorical FictionWWII  | 8 Comments

Muskoka is the summer playground for the very wealthy families that want to escape the stifling heat of summer in Toronto, Ontario Canada. The year is 1914 and one such family living there in the summer is the Wyndwoods. This large family lives an easy and fun filled summer with servants to meet their every need. The matriarch of the family is Augusta Wyndwood who took over the running of the family and business when her husband died. Al she has to do is threaten disinheritance and the family members jump to attention and do as she bids.

There are too numerous characters to mention here however I will mention the main characters of this story. Victoria is the headstrong granddaughter of Augusta. She would like to have more of the freedoms that men have but Augusta would like to marry her off to a wealthy cousin, Justin who is in love with Victoria. Victoria however is in love with her other wealthy cousin, Chas.
Then there is Jack, Augusta’s grandson. He shows up, when the story opens, as a waiter at the resort restaurant that the family goes to every Monday for dinner. The next day he shows up at the Wyndwood estate and is introduced by Augusta. Jacks father was disinherited by Augusta for marrying beneath himself. His family was very poor and he died fairly young, leaving his family to survive on their own. Jack hopes to ingratiate himself into the family.
The family live there usual glutinous summer on the lake, boating, swimming, playing tennis, and the other things in their idyllic lifestyle. However, things start to turn dark when WWI is threatened and many of Victoria’s cousins go off to war, to eventually become part of “the lost generation.”
This story travels from Muskoka, Ontario Canada to Britain, and the skies of war torn France. It includes the horrific bombing and sinking of the famous Lusitania ship of the shores of Britain. There is a little of something for everyone including, wealthy living, romance, mystery, adventure, and war.
It is evident the Gabriele Wills did her research of the period. She has beautiful writing and very interesting characters that leap out from the pages. There are a couple more minor story lines that I didn’t really care for. For instance Helena, who marries Victoria’s father James later in the story. She is a stereotypical conniving stepmother. This took away from the story for me. That said, I really did enjoy this book over. This book is the first of a trilogy and I hope to read the other two books.

Thanks to Gabriele Wills for sending me a copy of this book. To find out more about this book and the writing of it, head on over to my collaborative blog, Historical Tapestry, where we featured her, here. Also coming soon to Historical Tapestry is a collaborative review of this book with Kailana and myself.

Also reviewed at:
The Book Chick

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Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Chilling Mystery
Caroline is just like any other older sister. She doesn’t think that she should always have to look after her little sister Belle. Couldn’t she just disappear?

The year is 1956 and Caroline is given $3.00 to take Belle to the Calgary Summer Carnival. She must go on rides the Belle wants to go on and pick the pink cotton candy from her hair. Everything is about Belle.
At the end of the street, the girls saw ‘Grandpa’s Tymeless Fotos.’ This is where life changed Caroline’s life forever. As in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, Caroline finds out what pictures can really do.
I enjoyed this short story immensely. Cheryl Kaye Tardif has the knack of making a suspenseful story sound believable.
Highly recommended!
Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.