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Sweetland > Question #2: First impressions

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

We meet many characters in the first few opening chapters of Sweetland. What are your first impressions of Moses and some of the other islanders – Jesse, Clara, Loveless, Duke? Or the outsider - the "government man?"


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
I positively loved Moses Sweetland from the first moment I met him. Michael Crummey is a master with language. The dialogue between Moses and the government man is so funny and so immediately reveals Moses' personality. I loved the swearing and the dry wit - '"Now Arsebook," Sweetland said, "That's something I'd sign up for."' And f***en Loveless - "No one was allowed to light a match near the youngster for a week" after he swallowed kerosene as a toddler. Then there's Duke, who has owned a barbershop since 1992 but not once cut anyone's hair. All of this within the first twenty pages - I couldn't wait for more.


Maureen B. | 212 comments The whole hamlet was tucked into the pages of this book! Sweetland really was a star, so funny and feisty and yet so vulnerable. And then Blondie, who never left the house and loved her romances and cigs. The reverend who didn't deserve reverence. The Golden Priddles, who despite their loud-mouthed profanities and constant fighting, perhaps loved Sweetland more than he knew. I even had some sympathy for the government man, as well, even as he recognized that he wasn't all that admirable, just doing his job.

And Jesse, whose name means 'gift'; I was profoundly moved by his depictions of Jesse and his relationship with Sweetland.


Kate (arwen_kenobi) | 100 comments Mod
First impressions? Characters and those kind of characters you only ever see in close knit communities. Small close knit communities at that. Like you did, Susan, I really appreciated the dry humour and colourful language.

I also really liked the relationship that Sweetland had with Jesse though I do think Queenie may have been my favourite character.


message 5: by Allison (last edited May 14, 2015 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Allison | 396 comments Here's some food for thought, in the author's own words, about his characters and their names, whether fitting or ironic:

I’ve always loved the names of people and places in Newfoundland. They are often outlandish and evocative and exactly “right.” For the characters in the book I spent some time looking for names that are common on the south coast and went with the ones that seemed most interesting. I wasn’t trying to be overtly symbolic or allegorical. Loveless just seemed the perfect name for the guy, for example. In Sweetland’s case, it’s not a south coast name, but I loved the irony of it for the island, how inhospitable and difficult it is, how Moses still manages to see it as the sweet land.

And you can’t name someone Moses and expect people to ignore the biblical implications. In this case, again, it’s ironic. Moses Sweetland isn’t leading anyone to the Promised Land, so much as trying to keep them from leaving it. And no one’s getting in line for him.


So interesting!


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Maureen wrote: "The whole hamlet was tucked into the pages of this book! Sweetland really was a star, so funny and feisty and yet so vulnerable. And then Blondie, who never left the house and loved her romances ..."
So beautifully stated, Maureen. I love your insights into these characters.


message 7: by Allison (last edited May 26, 2015 07:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Allison | 396 comments My favourite character was Moses (of course!) ... for his courage and quiet strength, his aloneness, and his beautiful soft spot for his odd, but exceptional, grand nephew.


Maureen B. | 212 comments Susan wrote: "Maureen wrote: "The whole hamlet was tucked into the pages of this book! Sweetland really was a star, so funny and feisty and yet so vulnerable. And then Blondie, who never left the house and lov..."

Thanks, Susan, but I owe credit to some Newfoundlanders in the family. I'm in awe of how Crummey has captured the personality and down-to-earth language of the islanders. One family member still reminds me that she is not Canadian, she is Newfoundland (rhymes with understand!) being born before it officially became a province. :-)


Susan | 130 comments Oakville wrote: "We meet many characters in the first few opening chapters of Sweetland. What are your first impressions of Moses and some of the other islanders – Jesse, Clara, Loveless, Duke? Or the outsider - t..."

I enjoyed the way that every character was introduced in a rather low key way - with each of their idiosyncrasies emerging in a very casual way through Moses eyes. The author lets you know exactly what Moses thinks of each of them - good and bad. I especially liked Jesse and Blondie who sat in the window and felt there was more to come from them.


Allison | 396 comments Susan wrote: "Oakville wrote: "We meet many characters in the first few opening chapters of Sweetland. What are your first impressions of Moses and some of the other islanders – Jesse, Clara, Loveless, Duke? O..."

I know exactly what you mean, Susan! Throughout the first half as I was reading, I was wondering how each of the characters being introduced to the story was connected to the other, and what their relationships were exactly. But Crummey was so careful with his slow and gradual reveals. It definitely seemed low key and casual. But very deliberate, too. I felt as if I was shadowing Moses for a time. Just there in the room, like a fly on a wall.

I don't recall a character by the name of Blondie in the novel. Are you referring to Queenie? Or am I missing something?


Susan | 130 comments Allison wrote: "Susan wrote: "Oakville wrote: "We meet many characters in the first few opening chapters of Sweetland. What are your first impressions of Moses and some of the other islanders – Jesse, Clara, Lov..."

Yet Allison - I meant Queenie ... not sure where the other name came from :)


Maureen B. | 212 comments Oh dear, I bet that was me! Queen reminded me so much of a neighbour lady when I was a kid; she was often in curlers, never without makeup or smokes and seldom went out of the house--and, although I'm sure it wasn't her real name, I knew her as Blondie.

That's how real some of Crummey's characters seemed to me! lol


Allison | 396 comments Maureen wrote: "Oh dear, I bet that was me! Queen reminded me so much of a neighbour lady when I was a kid; she was often in curlers, never without makeup or smokes and seldom went out of the house--and, although..."

I love it, Maureen!


Maureen B. | 212 comments Oh, this is funny, Allison! Just noticed Queenie was spelled Queen. Now THAT was spell-check!


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