Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review of February by Lisa Moore

I have a love/hate relationship with award winning books. I know it's supposed to be good - it won an award for God's sake beating out who knows how many other deserving works - but I always find these books difficult to read.

The language is lyrical; phrases like "the water poured down in fat ropes and thin sheets that tapered to a point and got fat again". You know that takes work.

The plotline seems simple - a man dies in an oil rig accident off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982 and the remaining family, consisting of widow Helen, prodigal son John, and dutiful daughters Claire and Cathy, grieve the loss of him in their own unique way. At first the whole thing feels self conscious, like author Lisa Moore has written the novel solely to show off her mad writing skills.

But somewhere in the middle of February, like many other award winning books, I'm hooked and I get it and I can't put it down and when I finish the book I can't stop thinking of it. An ordinary situation, a man dies, becomes extraordinary in the way Moore makes us feel for and understand the characters.

Which is why February was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and is a Canada Reads 2013 Selection.

Favourite Quote:

And it occured to Helen then that Heathcliff had come and gone. She was slow to accept it. She was stunned. Heathcliff had come and looked at her and didn't find her attractive. It was so far outside the scope of what she knew to be decent human behaviour that she could not fathom it, though some part of her also knew it exactly. She went to the bathroom and got down on her knees in front of the filthy toilet and puked...what she was vomiting was the belief that getting old didn't matter. Because it did matter.

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