Historical fiction and a multi-generational tale, set in the freezing Newfoundland seaside town of Paradis...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
Historical fiction and a multi-generational tale, set in the freezing Newfoundland seaside town of Paradise Deep. Layered with snippets of the resident’s lives containing a touch of myth and small tastes of paranormal.
About: Galore is a complex and page-turning book, set in an area and time where living is bleak – a frigid seaside town in the mid 1800’s. Sadly the locals are starving, so when a dying whale swims into the harbor the town folk eagerly wait for the animal to take its last breath. All are lurking on the beach, with their knives and buckets and plans to use every part of its body for sustenance; to their surprise when removing its stomach they discover the body of a man. Thinking it’s a corpse they plan to bury it, but are shocked to find that he is still alive. Judah, as they name him, is at first feared due to the nature of his arrival, his unusual appearance, a lack of apparent ability to speak, and a very strong odor. However, in time he is thought to be the reason for an increase in the fish being pulled in by their once empty nets and other improvements in the relative comfort of the remote community.
My Thoughts: The above is only a short description of the very first part of the book; the rest contains interwoven stories around the numerous characters developed within the text. The author skillfully and incredibly weaves together the complex personalities of the resident’s lives in an earthy, heartbreaking, and at times starkly hilarious way. It includes some interesting twists, a full circle and an appropriate ending. The story is a take on a universal theme of a man being swallowed by a whale - this is a myth which is found in various cultures, religious text, and folk stories. Although Galore does not have an ancient setting and it is also not religious, it does contain a strong thread containing two Christian factions and several colorful local clergymen.
Michael Crummey is an exceptional writer with an unusual style that is at once page-turning and complex. With so many tangled threads it’s a good thing there are two genealogy trees located at the beginning of the book; it is needed. Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers, those who enjoy a mythic theme, and those who love complex colorful characters in their reads. I rate Galore at 4 stars; I loved it and now know why this author has won so many awards.(less)
A literary murder mystery set in an icy winter in Canada's Old Quebec City. This story includes an exceed...moreOriginal review posted at Layers of Thought.
A literary murder mystery set in an icy winter in Canada's Old Quebec City. This story includes an exceedingly likeable and down to earth character - Inspector Armand Gamache.
About: Inspector Gamache is still healing from a traumatic event which has him reeling both physically and emotionally (a thread continued from Louise Penny’s previous book in the series – The Brutal Telling). Meanwhile he is inadvertently brought into a search resulting from a recent murder which has occurred in the historic city. An eccentric amateur archeologist has been found dead in the basement of a local English library and historical society, creating some interesting side lines regarding issues prevalent since the birth of the country – the separation of French and English nationalities.
Another murder (from a past book) is interwoven into the story, and Gamache is having second thoughts about the man he convicted. He is also having flashbacks about a mistake for which he feels responsible, which resulted in the death or severe injury of some of his co-workers. As he and his dog make the rounds - visiting cafes, experiencing local color, food, and lore - he ponders the historical founding of Canada itself and attempts to make sense of his losses.
Thoughts: This story has lyrical writing, human insight, some very cozy scenes in the freezing landscape, interesting local information and an extremely likeable character. Armand Gamache is thoughtful, intelligent, listens, is ruggedly attractive, and is a seasoned and effective Chief Inspector in one of the largest cities in the country. You cannot dislike this character.
Bury Your Dead is book number six in the series, but it can be read as a stand alone. I did not feel I missed reading the first five in the series, or at least not until the very end - the cast of character is huge from lingering threads in previous books, so that did get a bit confusing. However, I do now feel compelled to read others in the series to fill in the missing pieces, so Bury Your Dead is a workable place to start. In summary it is an accessible literary mystery best for a cold winter night or for some coolness in the heat of summer. I’d give 4 stars to this intensely insightful novel which has a flowing writing style. It is moody yet cozy, and such a lovely read. (less)