Review by Shellie for Galore ~ by Michael Crummey
Historical fiction and a multi-generational tale, set in the freezing Newfoundland seaside town of Paradise Deep. Layered with snippets of the resident’s lives containing a touch of myth and small tastes of paranormal.
About: Galore is a complex and page-turning book, set in an area and time where living is bleak – a frigid seaside town in the mid 1800’s. Sadly the locals are starving, so when a dying whale swims into the harbor the town folk eagerly wait for the animal to take its last breath. All are lurking on the beach, with their knives and buckets and plans to use every part of its body for sustenance; to their surprise when removing its stomach they discover the body of a man. Thinking it’s a corpse they plan to bury it, but are shocked to find that he is still alive. Judah, as they name him, is at first feared due to the nature of his arrival, his unusual appearance, a lack of apparent ability to speak, and a very strong odor. However, in time he is thought to be the reason for an increase in the fish being pulled in by their once empty nets and other improvements in the relative comfort of the remote community.
My Thoughts: The above is only a short description of the very first part of the book; the rest contains interwoven stories around the numerous characters developed within the text. The author skillfully and incredibly weaves together the complex personalities of the resident’s lives in an earthy, heartbreaking, and at times starkly hilarious way. It includes some interesting twists, a full circle and an appropriate ending. The story is a take on a universal theme of a man being swallowed by a whale - this is a myth which is found in various cultures, religious text, and folk stories. Although Galore does not have an ancient setting and it is also not religious, it does contain a strong thread containing two Christian factions and several colorful local clergymen.
Michael Crummey is an exceptional writer with an unusual style that is at once page-turning and complex. With so many tangled threads it’s a good thing there are two genealogy trees located at the beginning of the book; it is needed. Highly recommended for historical fiction lovers, those who enjoy a mythic theme, and those who love complex colorful characters in their reads. I rate Galore at 4 stars; I loved it and now know why this author has won so many awards.
US|UK|Canada Paperback: 352 pages; Other Press (March 29, 2011 - first published September 8, 2009). For more publisher’s and author information see our expired giveaway post for Galore.
A review for Galore was ready to be published some time ago. However, the original version was lost in our “Gremlin attack”. It now seems like things are not retrievable without considerable expense so this is it’s re-written version. I am thinking of writing a post on “how to torture a gremlin” and am currently looking for any suggestions from anyone who has any experience in doing so – preference will be given to particularly painful ones.
Thanks for reading.