penelope and bumblebee

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Penelope's Reading List

Read only the very first chapter and it is easy to see why
The Friends of Meager Fortune, David Adams Richards’ latest epic, was recently named as a long-list finalist for the Giller Prize. Then read on, and discover a story whose prosaic allure takes hold of your imagination and does not easily let go.

Set in World War II era New Brunswick, Friends once again takes us to rural, wild Canada where, against a backdrop of the most beautiful, most ferocious landscape, a logging family weaves a saga of fortune and tragedy, love and vengeance.

It is here that we meet the Jameson clan, including eldest son Will, whose determination and gifts see him raised to mythical proportions in the eyes of the town and his fellow loggers, and younger son Owen, who must bear the twin burdens of that greatness and of a looming prophecy divulged long ago.

Plagued by war, scandal, treachery and trial, Adams Richards leads us through the last great logging haul before the inevitable advancement of technology, and into the hearts and minds of a townspeople determined to see the Jameson family ruined.

As with the Giller-prize winning Mercy Among the Children, Adams Richards offers readers an unparallelled level of both tragedy and humanity, where a series of unfortunate events, ironies and maliciousness plunge our protaganists to the lowest depths of misery, though, while there, even the most put-upon, misunderstood or accused character manages to cling to the belief that love, beauty and kindness exist and are worth surviving for.

There are two linked struggles throughout the story – that which takes place on the mountain, where the battle is fought mostly against the nature of the land, and that which takes place in town, where the battle is fought mostly against the nature of humans. In both struggles, the players long for reward and redemption, and in both, losing, we are assured, means certain death.

Adams Richards weaves his tale in a language of subtleties; the action meanders, and sometime seems to even stall, then is punctuated by a series of tragically beautiful events. But the plot does move forward, in whispers that are almost hidden. If tempted to skim even the most innocuous-seeming paragraph, you risk altogether missing the most imperative answer. Secrets are revealed in the most casual of exchanges.

But I urge you: don’t skim. Don’t miss even one word of this tragic, beautiful epic.

6 Comments:

  • At 12:05 AM, Blogger metro mama said…

    So much to read, so little time!

    Thanks for the reco.

     
  • At 8:44 PM, Blogger crabbykate said…

    Thanks for the recommendation! I am a huge DAR fan, and count Mercy Among The Children as one of my top 10 books ever. I haven't had the chance to read this yet, but will definitely get to it soon.

     
  • At 4:33 PM, Blogger Lisa b said…

    oh to read a book that does not rhyme.

     
  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger crazymumma said…

    Thanks for the heads up. I am still trying to get thru several books. I love his writing...it always makes me feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. Now why I would want that feeling is another question.........

     
  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger nomotherearth said…

    I have to confess that I have heard of DAR, but I'm always looking for new authors! I will have to check it out. You may like what I'm reading now "The Shadow of the Wind" by Zafon. It's essentially a mystery novel, but written almost as a love letter to literature and those who love books. I find it fascinating.

     
  • At 4:26 PM, Blogger Haley-O said…

    Well, I've been wasting my literary energies trying to finish the Da Vinci Code....for the past 3 months. Not being able to finish it has kept me from reading in general....I caved while I was away, though, and watched the movie! So, I'll move on. First on my agenda is The Time Traveller's Wife. Then, I guess I'll check out this epic of which you speak. Doesn't seem like my usual choice. But, if you say it's this good, then maybe I'll give it a try next.... Great review!

     

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