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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Fans of Howard Norman, the internationally acclaimed author of The Hunting of L and The Bird Artist and a two-time National Book Award finalist, will find in his latest novel -- an intense and intriguingly unconventional love story -- all the hallmarks of this masterly writer: sparkling yet spare language, a totally compelling air of mystery spread over our workaday world, ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published February 8th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published 2007)
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Disappointing; the excerpt and idea sounded great but the demolishing NYT review is mostly on cue; the main character is a moron - to be kind - and he is even a not-really-believable one and the letter he gets towards the end from his wife shows very clearly why; sadly the book ends there and that is its best part
I was trying to find a book to borrow from the local library, with my 8 month old in tow. She started fussing, and before I could find any from my recommended list, I grabbed the closest book, which turned out to be this one.

I'm not sure if it was tiredness from said 8 month old, or some ambiguity in the narrative, but I often got mixed up between David and William. This made it quite difficult for me to truly get into this book.

I didn't warm to any of the characters. I found the character of
Jul 17, 2011 Suzy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Meagan, Teri
The story of a whirlwind romance that leads to a quick marriage and a sudden unraveling, due to the unwitting antics of the husband (and to some extent, the father-in-law and the bride). This book goes hither and yon in time, making it kind of fun to piece together what you already kind of know. The book is tersely written, which befits the Nova Scotians and Canadians that populate it. It also made the book a breeze to read. It's short too, so I read it in just two days. The characters are quirk ...more
I was captivated by the small world that Norman creates in this novel. David Kozol, a Canadian living in London, meets Maggie, a Canadian from Nova Scotia, in a hotel lobby in 1985. After a whirwind courtship the two marry in Maggie's N.S. home shortly after. What happens the day after their honeymoon on Isla, Scottish Inner Hebrides, ends is the "crime" with which Norman begins his novel. The "devotion" of the title describes the lives of almost all the characters the author creates within thes ...more
This is my second Howard Norman book and I was a tad disappointed. Devotion begins with an announcement of a crime: on August 19, 1985, David Kozol and his father-in-law engaged in “assault by mutual affray.” The story of a young couple who meet, fall in love, get married and the end of their honeymoom the young man is found in a compromising (though innocent) situation by the girl's father. They fight, the father is gravely injured and the young man is charged with his care -- back in ...more
Devotion begins with an assault and continues with feuding newlyweds. On such fertile grounds for a bad love story, it’s Norman’s prose style that you’ll love. Sparse and mysterious, his narration mirrors the way his characters communicate.
Deon Stonehouse
Devotion by Howard Norman is an unconventional romance. David Kozol has an ordered life in London when he sees Maggie across a room and is smitten. He pursues her, turning his life upside down to be with her. After they return from their honeymoon, David gets into a horrible fight with Maggie’s father resulting in grievous injury. What could cause newly married, mild mannered David to get into an altercation with his father-in-law? Why is Maggie so willing to believe the worst of David. We each ...more
Another of Howard Norman's stories of Nova Scotia and beyond. This book was less than 200 pages and I read it cover to cover as the story unfolds of a young couple who fall in love and marry quickly. Mr. Norman winds the story forward and back again. The day after their honeymoon, the new husband, David, and the new father-in-law, William, are involved in a brawl that changes the direction of their lives and the new marriage.

Very interesting story and character! Also interesting because of the r
“David…followed a line of nineteen swans with clipped wings up from the spring-fed pond. He wondered if there was such a word as ‘swanherd’” (2).
“They allowed, as Anatole France had written of an acquaintance, ‘splendid companionship: my self-inflicted torment, his stark spirit’” (3).
“She’ll wreck her room like the Rolling Stones, except all on her own and a bit more demurely” (65).
“He reeked of whiskey and swan shit. Quite the unusual combination, Naomi thought” (87).
"The rest landed and floa
Shylashree Chikkamuniyappa
Dull boring read. Story happens in Novo Scotia, Halifax, London and Prague. Characters are dull. Maggie and David, a photographer meet accidentally and marry impulsively. David breaks off from a 4 year friendship with Novak from Prague. Story moves to an quarrel between David and his FIL, who has an accident and David comes to Novo Scotia to help him recover and make amends while Maggie is travelling with her work ensemble and is pregnant. Story ends on a positive note with Maggie 'trying to for ...more
I love love his writing.
I liked it, but I am having a difficult time formulating why. It is a quiet story in spite of the two main characters ending up hospitalized after fights. I like the theme of devotion--expressed in so many different relationships. Norman doesn't seem to know how to write realistic dialogue and fortunately steers clear of it most of the time. I am flummoxed by some of the characters' motivations but then again so is David whose story it is.
This book had me almost all the way through. I was caught by the specificity of the detail, and the sense of place and of the characters, as much as by the story. The only reason I don't give it five stars is probably specious--I was enormously frustrated by the book's finish! It was intentional; it was perfect. I was gritting my teeth with frustration.

Read this book. It's almost as great as the Bird Artist.
This book has a really interesting premise--a man and his father-in-law get into a fistfight just after the honeymoon, and the book tells the story of the aftermath of said fight and how and why it occurred. I liked it a lot, but there were occasions of very clumsy exposition, i.e., "Who will be your maid of honor?" "Francie So-and-so." "Ah, your best friend since you were 11." Um . . . ok. Anyway, B+.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Begining with what the author calls "an affray" brtwee the protagonist and his father-in-law, the story then laps back into the past and works forward toward th altercation. Set at the metaphorical heart of the story and perhap the universe are the mute swans that the two men tend. I finished this in one day. I quite simply could not put it down.
Well written and easy to read, but based on lack of communication and assumptions in a marriage that I found hard to believe. The book did make me think about the importance of constant talk between partners and how quickly a marriage can sour when views and concerns aren't expressed in a timely fashion.
I read The Bird Artist during my "read everything related to Newfoundland" series (Shipping News, etc) and I loved the book. So when I heard about this slender new novel -- I bought it first thing and I loved it.
What is the nature of loyalty? What will people do when tested? Will there be a happy ending?
Jul 18, 2007 Patrick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Howard Norman is one of the best unknown authors no one has ever heard of. He was a finalist for the National Book Award a few years back. Mostly, he writes about Canada, but it's really the characters in his novels that stand out.
Angsty dysfunctional family novels; 21st century spiritual malaise. Meh.
Not my favorite Norman book - I loved his others - but I think it would benefit from discussion with others. Lots of metaphors I'm sure I missed; some great writing, as always, but I think the total didn't add up
This was actually quite good. It's got Canadians, swans, a couple fist fights, infidelity, a couple hospitalizations, and even an attempted robbery. And, suprisingly, does not read outlandish in the least.
This novella is a quick read about an estranged couple. Interesting character development, but not much meat here. Classic story of misunderstanding and the ability to forgive (or not?).
Sia Stewart
I liked it. Not quite as much as What Is Left The Daughter, mostly because I thought the ending felt a little unfinished. But the writing was great, and the characters compelling.
Steven Cole
The story of a pair of people who have treated each other badly, and now have to deal with the repercussions. Not my cup of tea.

2 of 5 stars.
once was my fiction professor. wanted to love it, but couldn't take the sentimental overload.
Not an uplifting book, but it is real and Howard Norman's writing style is amazing.
Deb Oestreicher
A well-told story of love, betrayal, regret, and redemption.
Howard Norman is a great writer. I'm going to read all his books!
Very odd, can't say I'd recommend it.
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Howard A. Norman (born 1949), is an American award-winning writer and educator. Most of his short stories and novels are set in Canada's Maritime Provinces. He has written several translations of Algonquin, Cree, Eskimo, and Inuit folklore. His books have been translated into 12 languages.
More about Howard Norman...
The Bird Artist What Is Left the Daughter I Hate to Leave This Beautiful Place The Museum Guard Next Life Might Be Kinder

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