Monday, February 15, 2010


While I waited for the next Canada Reads book to arrive at my local TPL branch, I decided to pick up one of the books I was given for Christmas. Michael Crummey's Galore is my first repeat author of the challenge. I heard him read from the book at 2009's International Festival of Authors and was sufficiently intrigued to add it to my wish list.

Galore, set in the small Atlantic community of Paradise Deep, is a family saga spanning nearly two centuries. Crummey begins with a quote from Gabriel Garcia Marquez ("The invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love") and it is evident he draws much inspiration from the South American author. Galore, right from the very first scene when Judah emerges alive from the belly of the whale, is rife with magical realism. Even the inclusion of the family trees at the beginning of the novel reminds us that 100 Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez's brilliant family epic, should remain in the back of our minds as we read.

The story continues as the fates of two families- the Devines and the Sellers- interact, move apart and ultimately shape the community in which they live. There are far too many characters to detail them all here, but some stood out as favorites (or at least the most compelling, if not likable): Devine's Widow, the witch-like matriarch of the Devine family she embodies the 'old' way of the East Coast through herbal medicines, folklore and one helluva free spirit; Judah Devine, the naked, mute who emerged from the whale becomes an integral part of the Devine mythology as he moves into the world of spiritual sacrifice in part 2 of the novel; and Bride, the spunky wife of Henley Sellers who makes her appearance in the novel asking the newly arrived doctor to pull out all her teeth.

Like River Thieves (my first Michael Crummey novel), Galore has a good plot carried by strong characters. It combines the everyday with a good dose of folklore to keep it interesting. I would argue that Galore is better written than River Thieves as it has a better pace. Does it live up to the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels that it invokes? No, but really what does? The two parts of the novel felt a bit disconnected, as though Crummey couldn't quite find a way to connect the entire story, so just broke it in two. That's about the only bad thing I have to say- I really enjoyed the novel and was glad I had decided to double-up on Michael Crummey.

- Katy

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