Sunday, October 10, 2010

A surprisingly good read

Most years I try to read at least one of the Booker Prize short- or long-listed books, if not the winner. It makes me feel brainy.

From this year's crop I picked out a book that sounded interesting:

February, by Canadian writer Lisa Moore. The blurb sounded interesting, I ordered it in from the library. This is what it said:

In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's night storm. In the early hours of the next morning, all 84 men aboard died. Helen O'Mara is one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns. Her story starts years after the Ranger disaster, but she is compelled to travel back to the 'February' that persists in her mind, and to that moment in 1982 when, expecting a fourth child, she received the call informing her that Cal was lost at sea. A quarter of a century on, late one winter's night, Helen is woken by another phone call. It is her wayward son John, in another time zone, on his way home. He has made a girl pregnant and he needs his mother to decide what he should do. As John grapples with what it might mean to be a father, Helen realises that she must shake off her decades of mourning in order to help.With grace and precision, and a shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters' physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore reveals the whole story to us. And just as, finally, we watch the oil rig go down, we see Helen emerging from her grief to greet a new life

When I picked this book up, I was immediately put off by the slightly schmaltzy-looking cover and tossed it aside while I finished another book. Then I ran out of reading and gave this book a go.

It wasn't all smooth sailing then. The plot is fairly bleak, after all it is about grief. Not exactly the uplifting read I probably could have done with right now, but I persisted because - wow - this lady can write.

The further I got into it, the more compelled I was to finish this quiet, beautiful story. It's not your usual Booker candidate, that's for sure.

Anyhow, this morning I finished the book in bed and I keep thinking about it. It has left its mark on me and that's what I seek from a good read. I also keep thinking about Petite Gourmand and, being Canadian and all, wondering if she has read this one?

We may live on opposite sides of the world, but I feel I know her tastes in books. I love it when she mentions one she's enjoyed on her blog. I immediately seek it out and, so far, I've loved everything she'd recommended (especially The Thirteenth Tale - so excellent). So thanks PG! If you've not read February you should try it - love to know what you think!

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