Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Two Books

I procrastinated enough writing my blog post on River Thieves that I finished a second novel, so this is a dual post. If only you could also write blog posts on the subway to work...

I gave a quick review of Michael Crummey's River Thieves in my monthly update for Alternavox, but I will try to go into a bit more depth here. The novel follows the story of one family, the Peytons, in the greater picture of the history of early Canada. John, John Sr. and Cassie, their tutor and companion, are trappers and fishermen in Newfoundland. Their lives are interrupted when David Buchan, a naval officer, arrives in the Bay of Exploits to make contact with the Beothuks.

The novel becomes a series of misunderstandings- the englishmen misunderstand the Beothuks; John misunderstands the relationship between John Sr. and Cassies, etc. Through these misunderstandings characters are developed and a history of the trappers and Beothuks emerges.

Crummey paints a beautiful picture of pre-confederation Newfoundland. You can feel the cold of the novel as the characters hike through the forest or across the ice. Definitely an author I would like to read more of.

Where River Thieves tells the story of the historical relationship with the Beothuks, through the eyes of the British/Canadians, Green Grass, Running Water, in part tells the story of modern Blackfoot relationships with Albertans/Canadians from the point of view of various Blackfoot.

This is my first Western Canadian novel and it is about time! The novel follows numerous story lines, varying from a sort of mythology of Native history, two Americans follow four escaped elderly, a love triangle, and one man's struggle against a dam.

Thomas King's story is wonderfully written and very funny. I found myself laughing on the subway (always a sure way to make sure no one sits next to you). I like all of the characters and wanted each chapter to move faster so I could read about whoever was up next.

I am not big on judging novels, but since they are within the same post, I am going to say I liked Thomas King's better. I really enjoyed Michael Crummey, but it was refreshing to read something a bit different.

Up next: The Horn of a Lamb by Robert Sedlack

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