Monday, November 18, 2013

Galore by Michael Crummey

Title: Galore
Author: Michael Crummey
Themes: generational epic, love, family, poverty, small community relationships
Rating: ****

Plot: From "Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Caribbean & Canada and the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award; Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Book Award, and the Winterset Award

When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon.

Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.
With Paradise Deep, award-winning novelist Michael Crummey imagines a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to discern. Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us."

My Thoughts: I love the rather "tall tale"-ish feel of this generational epic, which spans from the early 19th century to World War I. It can border on the surreal while still offering a gritty and realistic portrayal of a hard-scrabble "frontier" fishing village in Newfoundland. Struggles between religious denominations, families, and employers/employees highlight the very real struggles of the people in Paradise Deep. Some may be off-put by the lack of linear plot or main character, but Galore is still a compelling read and I highly recommend it.

Similar Reads: A Bloodsmoor Romance by Joyce Carol Oates, Ice Land by Betsy Tobin, Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Crummey, Michael. Galore. New York: Other Press, 2011.

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