Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sweetland” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.91  ·  Rating details ·  6,049 ratings  ·  1,008 reviews
From the award-winning, bestselling author of Galore comes another unforgettable novel. By turns darkly comic and heartbreakingly sad, Sweetland is a deeply suspenseful story about one man's struggles against the forces of nature and the ruins of memory.

For twelve generations, when the fish were plentiful and when they all-but disappeared, the inhabitants of this remote i
Paperback, 322 pages
Published September 7th 2015 by Liveright (first published August 19th 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sweetland, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Cathy Lind When a reporter asked him for the spelling of his name this is what he gave him. I interpreted that to mean he didn't want to give anything to an outs…moreWhen a reporter asked him for the spelling of his name this is what he gave him. I interpreted that to mean he didn't want to give anything to an outsider including his name. I know people like this. (less)
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,049 ratings  ·  1,008 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sweetland
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 Newfoundland. But after 25 pages I did put it down; a week later I picked ...more
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
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 ☯️
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
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
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely, slow-moving story of a man and his island.

Curmudgeonly Sweetland is digging in his feet, and refusing to leave his beloved home, even though the government has made it clear that they will ONLY pay out the hefty resettlement fee to each resident if ALL the residents relocate. You can imagine that Sweetland's being the last hold-out is not making him too popular with his neighbors.

This is quite possibly the most character driven novel I've ever read, and also, some of the mos
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

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
May 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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
Nov 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
 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
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canada
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
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ❣
Mar 11, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Andy Weston
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve had lots of recommendations to read this, so saved it for a stormy day on the southern tip of Harris, and in doing so, appreciated it more than I had expected to.
It’s the second half of the book that really excels. In the first half there is an introduction to the few folk that remain on the remote island in Cape Breton, and their lives as they prepare for the island’s clearance. It has simply become too expensive for the government to support. But Moses Sweetland refuses to take the finan
The tone of this book was so lonely, but the writing was amazing. Full review to come.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Denver Public Lib...: July 11th, 2017 - Book Club Pick 1 5 Feb 21, 2017 06:16PM  
Play Book Tag: Sweetland by Michael Crummey - 4 stars 10 16 Mar 19, 2016 08:12AM  
The Rooster!: Book Discussion - Crummey's Sweetland 27 72 Sep 04, 2015 09:18AM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #5: Newfoundland travels 13 27 Jun 16, 2015 07:07AM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #4: Ladder scene interpretation 12 68 Jun 04, 2015 12:25PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
  • Cool Water (Juliet in August)
  • Random Passage (Random Passage, #1)
  • Annabel
  • A Town Called Solace
  • The Relatives
  • Indians on Vacation
  • The Wake: The Deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami
  • Mercy Among the Children
  • The Fortunate Brother (Sylvanus Now #3)
  • The Bishop's Man (The Cape Breton Trilogy #2)
  • The Company We Keep
  • We, Jane
  • The Outlander
  • February
  • Fight Night
  • Away
  • As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the week. To create our...
11 likes · 12 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“Through the month of December, the radio was slowly strangled by Christmas Carols” 2 likes
“He hated confronting those lost moments, being presented with some detail from his past and having to look on it like a stranger. It made his life feel like a made-up thing. A net full of holes.” 1 likes
More quotes…