Galore by Michael Crummey
Doubleday Canada, 2009
From my TBR stack. Winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book.
A story of life, love and survival on the Newfoundland coast, Galore is filled with folk-lore and magic. Following the Sellers and Devine families, along with other denizens of Paradise Deep and the surrounding areas, through six generations could have been just too much, but the thing that held me was the determination and resilience of people living in a place filled with such intense beauty and incredible danger.
She felt she’d been delivered into a universe where everyone’s knowledge but hers was complete and there was no acceptable way to acquire information other than waiting for its uncertain arrival. She stared out at the water, the endless grey expanse of ocean below reflecting the endless grey nothing of her life. The nothing stretched for miles in all directions, nothing, nothing, nothing, she was on the verge of bawling when the humpback breached the surface, the staggering bulk rising nose first and almost clear of the sea before falling back in a spray. Mary Tryphena’s skin stippled with goosebumps, her scalp pulled taut. From page 11.
This novel, based on the history of Newfoundland outports, could have become mired in melodrama after two or three family feuds and the loss of a child, but the addition of folklore and hints of magical realism add elements of mystery and humor. Following the exploits of wise women, ghosts and an irreverent priest, Crummey show his skill as a poet and novelist. I enjoyed this book tremendously.