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February

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  3,881 ratings  ·  520 reviews
In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's Day storm. All eighty-four men aboard died. February is the story of Helen O'Mara, one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns. It begins in the present-day, but spirals back again and again to the "February" that persists in Helen's mind and heart.

In her external life, Hel
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Paperback, 307 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Black Cat (first published June 15th 2009)
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Bonnie
I have been waiting for a new book by Lisa Moore and this did not disappoint. I read slowly right from the start, so that I could absorb each essential phrase, to appreciate how one sentence moved to the next, to marvel at a particular paragraph, or to pause at the end of a subsection to reflect on the way Lisa Moore had crafted a scene.

February is a fictional story about how one Newfoundland family of five deals with the loss of husband and father Cal, in the real-life tragic sinking of the of
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Indrani
I tried.

I wanted to like this book. My goal this year was to read each of the five "Canada Reads" choices, so that I could follow along with the CBC debates. These were supposed to be quintessential Canadian novels - the cream of the crop.

Perhaps I made a mistake in trying to read this during February itself - the most grey, depressing time of year here. Maybe in the summer I will try again. In the meantime though, there was so much I just could not like: the main characters frustrated me, I fou
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Brad
Some may say that this is a book about death or life or love, but for me this is a book about the "ifs" and the "whens."

The plot is irrelevant because whatever the plot is it is only the plot because of the perspective from which the story is told. It is a story of moments, the ifs and whens of one woman's life, and those moments, unrelated but for the woman who experienced them, are the tale.

February is a novel of fragments. And in those fragments is one of the truest stories I've ever read.

I'v
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Arlene
I don't want to give a negative review to a book about the 1982 Ocean Ranger disaster. I don't want to appear insensitive to the people affected by that tragic event. The families and friends of those lost have my sympathies.

But I really didn't like this book.

Lisa Moore writes beautifully descriptive passages. She writes beautifully descriptive passages about scattered, disconnected and, frankly, not very interesting events. Finishing this book was a chore, and I only did so because I had to giv
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Friederike Knabe
"Solitude, she thinks, is a time-release drug... it enters the system slowly and you can become addicted. It's not an addiction, it is a craft."

On Valentine's Day 1982, the Ocean Ranger, an assumed-to-be unsinkable oil rig, sank during a vicious storm out in the North Atlantic. Thirty years later the tragic events of that night still resonate deeply with the affected communities of Newfoundland. Families lost fathers, brothers, sons and lovers during a night when hope and prayers for a miracle t
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Cheryl
This book languished in a stack on a to-be-read shelf for almost two years, squashed between a Julian Barnes below and some short story anthology above.
It was 31 years ago on Valentine's Day that the Ocean Ranger oil rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland, killing all aboard.
31 years later, on Valentine's Day yesterday, February won the Canada Reads award. (Oh crap, now the masses will like it, it will be popular, and more often than not that means the writing sucks, but jeez, it's Lisa Moore,
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Sandra
FEBRUARY is a story of real people - people who love, laugh, argue,
shop at WalMart and Value Village and raise their children in the best
way that they know how.

FEBRUARY is also a story of loss and grief - grief that is not of the
moment, but rather of the decades. It is the story of three
generations: Helen O*Mara and her husband Cal who perished with the
Ocean Ranger, their four children - John, Cathy, Lulu and Gabrielle -
and their children.

The novel has a complex structure where the past and pres
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David Yoon
In February Lisa Moore drives me to distraction with her dialog. No one has conversations. Words are just launching pads to daytime reveries and thoughtful meanderings.

"That'll stain if you don't get at it."

Helen loved her kids. Maybe John best of all. He was far flung and wide ranging ...and here follows a page and a half recounting of a failed attempt to put together a crib and a story of a dog running in the wet sand.

"Maybe a little water will set it right."

Another page and a half likely sho
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C.J. Carmichael
This story swept me away and touched me very deeply. It was chosen as a Canada Reads selection by CBC radio and that was why I picked it up.

As a Canadian in my fifties, of course I remember when the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank in 1982. This book takes the tragedy to the personal level and examines the subsequent life of a widow who is left to raise her four children after her husband dies.

Moore describes loneliness: "She is as alone and cold and obdurately dull as the tree in her backyard, as the
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Allyson
I may have rated this book more highly had she not used the strange chapter jumps or whatever they may be called. I can't help but think it is an author weakness to do so as unable to maintain a narrative momentum otherwise. I am now reading her 2005 novel Alligator so may be unfair to compare. Although it also jumps between separate characters, repeatedly. Am only just started and may sign off without finishing if it is too annoying. There are too many good books to read without convincing myse ...more
Peachy
Had I not found out about February through the CBC's Canada Reads top 40 Canadian books list, it is doubtful that I ever would have picked it up. I'm not much in to slow-paced books without a strong storyline or intense characters. But, because of its rave reviews, and an understanding that it is important to break custom once in a while, I gave it a go. Although I'm not likely to recommend it to anyone that is not grieving a profound loss, I'd say I still enjoyed certain elements of the story. ...more
Linda Ostrom
This book held me prisoner, or should I say captive. Not often (if ever) has one book raised such emotions. It was like the feeling in the pit of your stomach after you have had a good cry, but are still in the throws of the upset.

Helen is 30, has three children and is expecting another baby but is not aware of it yet. Her husband died in an terrible storm while working off the coast of Newfoundland.

The writing is uniquely different. I couldn't place it at first, but I think you might say "easte
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Caren
I happened upon this author when reading reviews of her newest book. As I looked at her previous titles, I realized she lives in and infuses her work with the Newfoundland city of St. John's, which just happens to be where one of my daughters is currently living. Of course I had to start with this book, since it is, after all, February. I had never heard of the Ocean Ranger disaster, but I began to learn about it through this book and was even inspired to dig a little further and find out more. ...more
Steven Langdon
Lisa Moore has marked herself as one of Canada's best authors in 2013. Not only was her gripping new book "Caught" put on the short list for the Giller Prize, but this emotionally powerful 2009 novel won this years CBC Canada Reads award.

This is a beautifully structured and deftly written collision with tragedy and death. The focus is a loving but vulnerable woman, Helen, whose husband Cal dies with 83 other oil rig workers in the 1982 Ocean Ranger sinking off Newfoundland -- leaving her with f
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Laura
February is a cold and biting account of life after tragedy. Helen's husband drowned when the Ocean Ranger sunk off the coast of Newfoundland in 1980. Helen was left with three children, an unknown pregnancy, and the empty space her husband left behind.

Jumping in and out of the present, and mostly from Helen's perspective (though not exclusively), this story shows how people still leave lasting imprints long after they have left our world. This is the personal account of a tragedy - completely s
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Julie
A stunning and at times haunting read, which had be lost in some of the passages throughout the book. It will easily be one of my favourite reads of the year.

There were many times I was completely lost in the writing and the passages throughout the book, the author is a spectacular writer and I found myself constantly making notes on many passages throughout the book - sometimes two or three on the same page. It was absolutely stunning and it helped the reader get inside Helen's mind and almos
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Andrew Smith
Lisa Moore’s ‘February’ is not unlike listening to a particularly evocative piece of music. Each sentence is exquisitely composed with exact, appropriate words lined up in the perfect order. Her writing is beautiful on the reader's "ear" so to speak, and the images it calls forth are vivid and detailed. The novel has no particular sequenced narrative but repeatedly takes the reader from era to era, and back again, in protagonist, Helen Omara’s life before and after the death of her husband, a vi ...more
Peter
"Have you ever tried to figure out the difference between what you are ... and what you have to become?"

This is just one of many questions and puzzles that Lisa Moore presents her readers in February. For the most part, this book is an enjoyable read. If you want a chronological narrative, with a clear arch of a story, this book is not for you. If, however, you step back and realize that the central core of the novel is of a horrendous disaster that occurred on Valentine's Day, 1982, at that thi
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Amanda
Honestly, it was a struggle to keep reading this book until the end. The language was beyond irritating and extremely confusing. It was written almost as if the characters were taking down every thought as they move through their lives. It was constantly switching from past to present and from character to character and I could never keep up. Just when I thought I understood what was going on, the whole thing shifted again and I was completely lost. There didn't really seem to be much of a plot ...more
Carole
Lisa Moore's testament to the overwhelming, destructive and chaotic nature of grief is very moving and affecting. Helen and Cal are an ordinary married couple raising three children in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1982 when the oil rig that Cal is working on sinks, and every man aboard drowns. Using the facts of the real story of the Ocean Ranger as the backdrop, Moore presents the life that Helen must carry on alone.

The story flashes back and forth between the present (almost 30 years after the
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Dsinglet
How would you survive if your husband died in a tragic accident, the details of which haunt you night and day. You survive with four children including a baby in the womb that he will never see. You cope with house repairs, loneliness, loss and rootlessness. You must rediscover a vocation, friendships and a way to go forward in life. These are a few of Helen's challenges when her husband dies on the oil rig on a cold Valentine's Day.

The beauty in the book was the artful way Helen's present and
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Daniel
This novel follows the life of a fictitious O'Mara family whose husband/father (Cal) was lost in the Ocean Ranger tragedy of 1982. The majority of the novel is from the perspective of the widow (Helen), but some of it is from the perspective of the son. The story of this family is quite compelling, and it draws you in.

I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn't get past the writing style. I'd pick it up, suffer through a chapter or two, and then leave it on the bedside table for anoth
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Tina Siegel
Again, Moore's prose is lovely. She's got a gift for being poetic without descending into overwrought emotionalism. And I love her ear for the salty tang of Newfoundland English.

Moore has certainly captured the devestation - and even the terror - of the Ocean Ranger disaster. Her descriptions of the rig's last moments, and the men in the water, are gut-wrenching.

I did feel like some of her transitions could be better, particularly in the beginning. There were times when I didn't know what, or
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Bkwormmegs
Wow. What is it about Canadian writers - lyrical, well written prose, but god, even when trying to write a sort of happy ending (Margaret Atwood has it so right about out literature) it still comes off as depressing.

What would have been wrong with telling the story conventionally? If you put all the back and forths in order of timeline I think the lack of depth in the novel becomes easier to see. She writes beautifully - sets the mood skillfully. At the end of the day, the characters - even the
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Eliza
11/14/2010: This novel is extraordinary. Lisa Moore writes the most gorgeous prose I've read in a long time. Very spare, but the word choice is precise and the descriptions convey a huge amount in those few words. It's hard to give an example--I kept looking for a small section, so I could demonstrate--because it's all part of the larger whole; you get to know the characters (especially Helen, the protagonist) through the smallest of details, and that is hard to show by reading only a few senten ...more
Gail
Even though I JUST finished this novel, I feel like I read it in a fog of some sort. Kind of like, have you ever answered your phone half asleep and had a five-minute conversation with someone, only to remember a vague outline of what you just discussed?

Where I give Lisa Moore three stars is for the story itself. I feel as though she got so caught up in the WAY she was telling it (jumping back and forth between character narratives, hopping around from decade to decade) that she let the story g
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Dodi Wozniak
Another Book club book but I'm glad it was chosen. As what usually happens, I wait until the last moment to read the selections, finishing it this morning with the gathering this afternoon, but I didn't rush through it. I started it on Tuesday night and finished it in about a day and a half.

I wouldn't call it a quick read kind of book, because the author, Lisa Moore, has such a style in her writing that I found myself pausing just to retread a passage to pull more from it. Her words are closely
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Mike Bull
This is fiction based largely in Newfoundland, Canada, although its backdrop is based on a real event: the sinking of the oil rig Ocean Ranger, and a woman whose husband died, and the life lived subsequently with four children, and their lives. The book is a set of stories, about the family, before, during and after the disaster. The poignancy of this book lies in the deeply written emotional depth in every day events including loss, loneliness, family trials, family milestones, heartache, joy, ...more
Kate
I am always intrigued by the books showcased on Canada Reads, but "February" particularly captured my imagination when it was defended by comedian Trent McClellan in 2013. McClellan was humorously entertaining throughout the week of televised debates for the 5 books in the running for the title, but when he and Moore were interviewed after February won, McClellan became so emotional about the story of the Ocean Ranger and its influence on Newfoundlanders that he could hardly talk. Now I understa ...more
Nicole Lundrigan
In this book, Lisa Moore has created an immensely strong female character. Two things that struck me the most were Helen’s continual openness to life, and the depth of her love for her late husband. The book slid so easily back and forth in time, and I was trying to figure out how Moore managed it. It just flows so nicely. The main subject matter of the book is, of course, devastating – even though I was nine years old when the Ocean Ranger went down, I remember it. It rippled through every comm ...more
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February 3 37 Aug 06, 2013 06:25AM  
CBC Books: February by Lisa Moore discussion 11 67 Feb 11, 2013 10:16AM  
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Lisa Moore has written two collections of stories, Degrees of Nakedness and Open, as well as a novel, Alligator.

Open and Alligator were both nominated for the Giller Prize. Alligator won the Commonwealth Prize for the Canadian Caribbean Region and the ReLit Award, and Open won the Canadian Authors' Association Jubilee Prize for Short Fiction.

Lisa has also written for television, radio, magazines (
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More about Lisa Moore...
Caught Alligator Open Degrees of Nakedness: Stories The Penguin Book of Contemporary Canadian Women's Short Stories

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“It has taken stealth and some underhandedness. It has taken clarity of purpose when the moment called for dreamy abandon. He has practised withdrawal.” 0 likes
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