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Johnston, Wayne.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, 1987. 192pp, paper. ISBN 0-88750-691-7 (cloth) $29.95. 0-88750-692-5 (paper) $14.95.

Reviewed by Susan Ratcliffe

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

The daily round of life with its routine chores, grinding hardships, small pleasures and large disappointments is minutely described in this novel about three generations of a Newfoundland family who attempted to establish a farm and a new life away from the fishing life on the coast. The tough, hard dad, the long-suffering mom, and their assorted children make up the cast of this drawn-out tale.

Nothing eventful ever seems to happen: even the dramatic times of sickness and death are just another part of the tedious daily round. Murchie, the eldest son, leaves for Ontario, returns to farm for a while, then leaves again for good; Raymond, the attractive brother, drinks and drinks and drinks, then dies; the sisters quarrel and cry and put up with their men. The farm starts out as empty land and ends as an abandoned field.

The novel might be useful as a study of family life or as a picture of the hopelessness of alcoholism, but it is not an entertaining or comforting book to read. The characters are not attractive, the plot is not exciting, and the theme is not uplifting. Only libraries that need Newfoundland writers should buy it.

Susan Ratcliffe, Centennial Collegiate, Guelph, Ont.
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