Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crow Lake

The BPYC book club kick-started its inaugural meeting by singing Happy Birthday to Rebecca. Then we all enjoyed a champagne toast for the auspicious beginning. Gathered around the table were Annika, Maureen, Joan, Rebecca, Caroline, Robin & I, ready to begin our discussion of Crow Lake, by Mary Lawson.

I'd read it before and my intention was to refresh my memory with a few reviews before the meeting. What's the expression? Oh yes, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

Turns out this wasn't the plot line I had in mind. It doesn't start with a 60 page account of a walk from Canada's west to east coasts. Oops. I went to grab Maureen's copy of the book to skim through the pages but had forgotten my glasses at home.

As people started to talk about the book and characters, scenes started coming back to me in quick bursts. After the two hour meeting was coming to an end, I'd finally pieced most of it together. I can honestly say it was one of the oddest intellectual experiences ever. I wonder if this reconstruction is like what an amnesiac experiences?

Anyway, great book and great discussion. Kate is narrating the story as both an adult and child. As a child she is full of wonder; as an adult she looks to books for life answers. She's grown into a bitter academic, full of critical judgements about people. Her lack of empathy has destroyed one of the most important relationships of her life and is likely to end a promising love affair. She is the only one with the power to unlock her own heart - will she be able to meet the challenge?

From Wikipedia:
Crow Lake is a 2002 first novel written by Canadian author Mary Lawson. It won the Books in Canada First Novel Award in the same year and won the McKitterick Prize in 2003. It is set in a small farming community in Northern Ontario, the Crow Lake of the title, and centres on the Morrison family (Kate the narrator, her younger sister Bo and older brothers Matt and Luke) and the events following the death of their parents. Kate's childhood story of the first year after their parents' death is intertwined with the story of Kate as an adult, now a successful young academic and planning a future with her partner, Daniel, but haunted by the events of the past. In among the narratives are set cameos of rural life in Northern Ontario, and of the farming families of the region.

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