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Sweetland

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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  4,797 ratings  ·  852 reviews
For twelve generations, when the fish were plentiful and when they all-but disappeared, the inhabitants of this remote island in Newfoundland have lived and died together. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, they are facing resettlement, and each has been offered a generous compensation package to leave. But the money is offered with a proviso: everyone has to g ...more
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published August 19th 2014 by Doubleday Canada
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Dianne
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2015
I must have walked past this book on the “New Books” library shelf four or five times. I would pick it up, read the blurb on the inside cover, and think, “Nope. Not my kind of book” and put it back. Finally, I added it to my stack and took it home. I sat on the couch with my stack of goodies from the library and opened the book to scan the first few pages. A couple of days later, I sat on the same couch, gutted.

“Sweetland” is about a 69 year old man named Moses Sweetland who lives on an island,
...more
Jen
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm done and it couldn’t have been fast enough. Took 100 pages to finally grasp at something that had potential but snowballed into something that went on for far too long.

Moses Sweetland, 70, sits in his house on an island not far from St. John's, Nfld. The government is pressuring folks to sell and he is the only one holding out. Until, the tide does change and for circumstances I won't disclose, the choice to at last go with the majority doesn't come to fruition.

The story flits from present
...more
Diane S ☔
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How does one measure the value of a man's life? Is it the house he lives in? The amount of possessions he has? The family and friends who love him or those he loves? Twelve generations have lived on the island of Sweetland, a mythical place off the Newfoundland coast, they have made due with little and supported each other through hard times. The governments price is 100,000 dollars, but only if everyone leaves the island. Many accept, this is their chance to have an easier life and that is a l ...more
Michael
This one crept up on me and bowled me over with the stubborn and quiet heroism of a character who resists the inevitable destruction of his way of life and loss of his rural community.

Moses Sweetland lives on a Newfoundland island named after his ancestors. Decades after the commercial cod fishery shut down, most capable ambitious residents have gone to elsewhere in Canada to seek work, leaving mostly misfits and the elderly behind to cling to the old ways. Sweetland has been totally bound into
...more
Agnieszka
Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, own-a-copy, reviewed
Sweetland, what an equivocal name. Remote, tiny island on the Atlantic, part of Newfoundland. There used to be a fishing settlement but when novel starts it is half empty, inhabited by the old and misfits of all descriptions. Due to economic reasons Canadian government offered to them a good price for leaving and moving on the continent. Most of residents accepted the proposal. With one exception.

Moses Sweetland, whose ancestors were the first ones who inhabited the island, is the only one who d
...more
Book Riot Community
There is a really good chance that this will be my favorite book of 2015. I asked my boyfriend to smother me with a pillow so I couldn’t finish reading it, because then I’d be sad it was over, but for some reason he found that to be an unreasonable request. Geesh. But SEER EEE US LEE. It broke my damned heart to finish it. Moses Sweetland is a grumpy old man living on a small island in Canada (which is also named Sweetland.) The government wants to buy out all the island’s inhabitants and use it ...more
Cathrine ☯️
2★
As always the rating is based on my emotional response rather than the book’s merit and does not do justice to the author’s talent. Admirable and atmospheric prose, compelling storyline, great characters; yet rating a book I did not enjoy reading is challenging as I feel I’m being a bit unfair. I needed to ponder this one a bit and fear much of the narrative and nuance passed me by.

Reviewer Nicholas Herring wrote “an impressively prolonged and often exhausting study of grief and ghosts centeri
...more
Jessaka
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
I have learned that if I don't like the first two pages of a book I will never like it. I thought it would be the same with this book because it was so boring, nothing was happening, not even up to maybe the first 100 pages. So, why didn't I quit like I would otherwise? Well, I love the ocean and wanted to read a book on village life in another country. I am also reading books around the world and had looked for one set in the Netherlands. But after 25 pages I did put it down; a week later I pic ...more
Diane
This book struck out.

I tried three different times to read this novel. THREE. Each time I got a little farther into the story, but I always got frustrated with the writing and gave up. I even tried listening to the audiobook, thinking I could trudge through, but I still became annoyed by the cliched characters and bad dialogue.

The story is that the government is trying to move everyone off a remote island called Sweetland, near Newfoundland. The main character, Moses Sweetland, refuses to leave
...more
Carol
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Oh what thoughts the imagination can conjure up......(both mine and those of Moses)

Despite sinister threats and an inviting $100k incentive, stubborn 69 year old Moses Sweetland is determined not to leave his beloved home in Chance Cove, but ultimately finds himself living in the eerie stillness of a ghost town. (no spoiler here)

And while I admit it took some time to make character connections and get into a comfortable reading groove, I really did like Moses, his sarcasm, his take charge ways a

...more
Cheryl
This author Michael Crummey does know his arse from a dory — unlike the hapless Toronto journalist writing about the “authentic Newfoundland” and disparaged by the book’s main character, Moses Sweetland.

Sweetland. From the old family of Swietlund. Several generations in a small village on the coast of Newfoundland. They lived the traditional Newfoundland fishing life. The men and the boys out on the seas, or out in the backwoods trapping and hunting. The women on land, salting and preserving the
...more
Chrissie
May 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Chrissie by: Toni
ETA: There are two more reasons why this book disappointed me. There is no discussion of a government's right to move people out of the hinterlands, to force them to live where everybody else lives. Obviously this is cheaper for the state! There is no analysis of this whatsoever - nothing about economics, safety, education, public facilities.In the way the offer is set out, in that all agree or the deal is off, the focus is shifted to the pressure of neighbors, fellow island inhabitants. Two com ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Set on a fictional island outport of Newfoundland, this is the second book I've read this year dealing with the issue of former fishing villages in Newfoundland and Labrador disappearing due to resettlement (government generated or just normal economic migration because there are no fish, or because they aren't allowed to fish the fish that are there). The other was the 2018 novel Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper. While that novel focused on a younger boy's perspective, Sweetland focuses on Mos ...more
Jill
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is rare that the trajectory of a novel can be surmised by a character’s name. But in Moses Sweetland, Mr. Crummey’s cantankerous and fiercely honest character, the author may well be signaling the key themes of his novel.

Moses, of course, is the Exodus hero of the Bible, a story that begins in Genesis. An important prophet, born n a time when his people were an enslaved minority, he demands release. And Sweetland speaks for itself. In this novel, Sweetland also represents a remote island off
...more
Carrie
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
What just happened here? The book started out in a really promising, interesting way. Moses Sweetland is the last hold-out, who refuses to move off the tiny island that bears his name. He is an interesting character, as are the others that populate the island. But all the book has going for it are the characters. There is no story, and by the end of the book it felt as if the author had written himself into a corner, with only a bizarre, metaphysical way to get out of it. I wish the author had t ...more
Jennifer
I struggled mightily with what to say about this book, and how to even classify my own thoughts. Other people have described it much better than I'm capable of doing now. (I'm thinking especially of Diane's review ).

What I will say is:

- Above all, I loved the characters in this book, especially the seemingly simple but utterly complex Moses Sweetland
- I'm glad I read this
- I've learned that as a reader I don't have much appreciation for "magical realism" (or anything in that realm). A deficienc
...more
Valerie
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, owned
It isn't often one has the privilege of reading a nearly perfect book - but this book is it, a jewel. I'm weeping as I write this - saddened that it's over. I loved Sweetland, the people, the sounds, their lives and I'm feeling bereft at the loss of them until I re-read this book and relish its beauty once again.

Exquisitely written, powerful, gentle, lyrical this is a magnificent book. I can still feel the people of Sweetland pulsing away in my mind, they will live with me a very long time.

And J
...more
DeB MaRtEnS
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, Sweetland is not an especially likeable novel. It is meant to impact you with its literary voice, it's strong point of view, a vehicle mourning a change in the traditional focus of Newfounders' lives and work and a testamentary to the love of that history, its people's practical skills and a headstone for a vanishing tribe of people and way of life.

The island named after Moses Sweetland's forbears is being evicted: no ferry service, school, electricity, source of gasoline, daily s
...more
J.K. Grice
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I loved the book SWEETLAND by Micheal Crummey. His writing is absolutely stellar. He has such a feeling for dialogue, relationships, and character development. I also loved his pacing and his slow reveal about the inhabitants of the tiny island of Sweetland, off the coast of Newfoundland. For some reason this month I was a little pinched for time, so I read this book slowly, like maybe 20 pages a day. That helped me to really savor the story and maintain Crummey's wonderful imagery in my mind, o ...more
Krista
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
 photo ransom_zps2787d8b3.png

Moses Sweetland is the embodiment of a Newfoundland that's disappearing: twelve generations of Sweetlands gave their name to the tiny and inhospitable island off the southern coast of Newfoundland, and in his lifetime, Moses was part of the Toronto-based diaspora that left home in search of a quick buck in the 70's, a codfisher until the 90's moratorium, a lighthouse keeper until it was automated, and now, the final holdout in a government plan to relocate the community to the mainland -- and as
...more
Amy
Although the description of this one didn't do much for me, I kept hearing such good things that my curiosity got the best of me. And I'm so glad that I read this one. Such a beautiful story ... so beautifully written.

I didn't understand much of the history of resettlement in Newfoundland but this novel made that very history come alive with the amazing people in this novel. This novel is rather quiet (for the most part) ... it's focus on a small community and the many personalities within that
...more
jo
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
this great review by michael collins gives the sorrowful background for this story, so get yourself over there and read it. or not. cuz in spite of the fact that michael collins says that mainland canadians cannot understand this book, this non-canadian got it just fine. everything he says. i got it all.

sweetland is a really lovely character. the book is a bit of a paean to the loss of a certain kind of masculinity. when authors celebrate lost masculinity they get heavy on the technical languag
...more
Dianne
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the story of man's mortality. Sweetland by Michael Crummey is a work of art, a masterpiece, brilliant for its humanity. When a person is emotionally tied to the land they live on, money for that land is of little or no appeal. Such is the case with Moses Sweitlund, a stubborn man who has no intention of letting anyone take away his home. The setting, the Eastern Maritimes of Canada, the farthest East of Canadian provinces, Newfoundland. In an isolated seaside village everyone knows every ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
As Moses Sweetland sorts out the ghosts, his days on the island of Sweetland are coming to a close. Having lived most of his life on this island, just outside Newfoundland, Moses refuses to leave as the government tries to buy everyone off the island. He tricks them and remains behind as the sole inhabitant.
I fell in love with this old curmudgeon. He is opinionated, stubborn and determined to do things his way. But as time goes on and he loses his utilities and the weather gets bad Moses finds
...more
Alena
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book demands close attention. It is a story told in disjointed fragments, jumping around in time. Truthfully, it took about 100 pages for me to become fully immersed. But once I did...the rewards were rich.
Sweetland is a title, a character, and a place -- each an island, complicated and layered and undiscovered. Big themes of independence, progress, the value of life, love and self-determination are revealed as Sweetland's layers are unveiled.
This is not an easy read, but I am left so impre
...more
TrudyAn
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
I read a lot of Canadian literature, and I read a lot of Canadian award-nominated fiction. So, how could I not have read Michael Crummley's writing until now? (Each of his three previous novels has been a winner or finalist for a prestigious literary award).

What a master storyteller! I won't restate the synopsis here, and will provide no spoilers, but be prepared for a moving and emotional tale. Although beginning a bit slowly, I was soon caught up in the multi-layered story of Sweetland the is
...more
Kathleen
Wow! Another 5 star book. Thank you to the person who chose Sweetland by Michael Crummey as a monthly challenge for the BT group.

The descriptive writing has lots of details giving a clear picture of the landscape, buildings, and well developed characters. The language is beautiful. The following quote is from page 266 of 681.

And then she said,"I can't believe you forgot about that."
"More can I," he said. He hated confronting those lost moments, being presented with some detail from his past and
...more
Lark Benobi
I feel like I had to train myself how to read this book. When I first read it I gave it 3 stars--I thought it was a story of a curmudgeonly old Rooster Cogburn type character and then the story runs off the rails with all these weird happenings that didn't really fit into the novel I thought I was reading. The next time I read without subjecting the book to my own (false) expectations, and I realized that this novel was elegiac and magnificent to me, a cross between Independent People and King L ...more
Jill
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, Sweetland felt similar to other books I’d read recently with the curmudgeon and his quirky family and neighbors. I thought it was heading in the direction of Fredrick Backman’s books, but clearly I was mistaken.

I loved this book even though it broke my heart. Even on this remote island with a small circle of loved ones or completely alone, Moses Sweetland lived a full life. His relationships with Jesse and Mr. Fox were so beautifully written. It’s all so bare and sparse yet somehow so
...more
Claire Fuller
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh, such a wonderful book. Great characters, prose, landscape descriptions, story. I love how it all the family relationships and the history unfolded so slowly. Sweetland, the man was so real to me, and the village, the sea (almost as a character to). It ended perfectly, it couldn't have ended any other way.
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Born in Buchans, Newfoundland, Crummey grew up there and in Wabush, Labrador, where he moved with his family in the late 1970s. He went to university with no idea what to do with his life and, to make matters worse, started writing poems in his first year. Just before graduating with a BA in English he won the Gregory Power Poetry Award. First prize was three hundred dollars (big bucks back in 198 ...more
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