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Good to a Fault Paperback – Sep 1 2008

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The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Freehand Books; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 1 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1551119994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1551119991
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #228,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Marina Endicott is really funny, a sweet-natured but sharp-eyed and quick-tongued social observer in the Jane Austen-Barbara Pym-Anne Tyler tradition, who can wring love, revulsion and hilarity from readers in a single page."-T.F. Rigelhof, The Globe and Mail

Book Description

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best Book Award, Canada and the Caribbean

Finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize

In a moment of self-absorption, Clara Purdy’s life takes a sharp left turn when she crashes into a beat-up car carrying an itinerant family of six. The Gage family had been travelling to a new life in Fort McMurray, but bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer rather than remnants of the accident. Recognizing their need as her responsibility, Clara tries to do the right thing and moves the children, husband and horrible grandmother into her own house—then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness.

As Lorraine walks the borders of death, Clara expands into life, finding purpose, energy and unexpected love amidst the hard, unaccustomed work of sharing her days. But the burden is not Clara’s alone: Lorraine’s children must cope with divided loyalties and Lorraine must live with her growing, unpayable debt to Clara—and the feeling that Clara has taken her place.

What, exactly, does it mean to be good? When is sacrifice merely selfishness? What do we owe in this life and what do we deserve? Marina Endicott looks at life and death through the compassionate lens of a born novelist: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance on the precipice.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Barker on Feb. 28 2010
Format: Paperback
Clara Purdy was living a quiet life in Saskatoon, working in an insurance office and living by herself in the home she grew up in. Then she ran her car into a Dodge Dart owned by a family that was moving to Fort MacMurray. They had been living in the car for a while as they had very little money. The family consisted of father (Clayton), mother (Lorraine), Clayton's mother Mrs.Pell, children Darlene, Trevor and Pearce. No one was badly hurt in the accident but while at the hospital it was noticed that Lorraine had some peculiar bruises, not caused by the crash. After some tests she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma which would require extensive treatment. Clara decided to open her house to the family so they would have a place to stay while Lorraine was receiving treatment. Little did she know what she was getting herself in for. After one night Clayton disappeared in Clara's mother's car. Mrs. Pell can not be trusted to look after the children while Clara goes out to visit Lorraine. It becomes clear to Clara that she has to take a leave of absence from work. Fortunately Clara (who is soon called Clary by the children and everyone else) has some assistance from her next door neighbour, Mrs. Zenko (everyone should have a next door neighbour like her) and her cousins who live just outside of Saskatoon. Clayton manages to get in touch with Lorraine's brother, Darwin, (by using Clara's phone calling card) and he comes to stay in Lorraine's room at night which removes some burden from Clara. And then there is the Anglican priest at Clara's church, Paul Tipett, who has personal problems of his own but manages to provide some support for Clara.

I really loved how all the characters grew throughout the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Q: Book Addict TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 13 2010
Format: Paperback
Clare Purdy is a 43 year old divorced, childless and lonely person. Since the death of her parents she has questioned many things in her life. While leaving her house one afternoon, Clare is not paying attention and is involved in a collision. Clare learns the family were living in their car driving to Fort McMurray. What she doesn't realize is her life is about to change in many drastic ways. When Clare arrives at the hospital she learns the family is all well except the mother has a fever and bruising that needs to be investigated. We learn very soon that the mother Lorraine has cancer and will need to stay in the hospital for extensive treatment. Clare opens up her home to the children, their father Clayton and his mother Mrs. Pell. Clare soon becomes their pseudo-mother, when Clayton runs off with her mother's car, money from her wallet, her calling card and the Silver teapot. Mrs. Pell is too caught up in her own needs to even think of the children and help out. She does administer Benadryl to baby Pearce to keep him sleepy and not interfere with her. Clare struggles to take care of Darlene, Trevor and baby Pearce. Clare feels forced to quit her mundane job and focus on the children. Financially and emotionally she is burden with their care. Lorraine's brother Darwin comes to town to assist with Lorraine, and begins living with Clare as well. Some of Clare's church members admire her actions, and others scorn her. Some believe she isn't doing this for the children't good, she is doing this for her own selfish needs. We clearly see that Clare has a sense of purpose and need in her new role.

Endicott writes the story from multiple perspectives. We have Clare who is emotionally drained and worried about the children constantly.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Schmadrian on Dec 15 2008
What I'm most interested in as a reader are two simple things.

1) A story that engages, captivates.
2) A writer with not only 'style', but a distinct voice.

This novel has both. (Although, to be honest, 'Good to a Fault' is less a 'story', than a 'situation'.)

The premise is compelling. The characters are all so nicely drawn. (I HATED Clayton.) The pacing is measured, but not unduly so, with some absolutely memorable moments. And Ms. Endicott has a way with language that put a smile on this writer's face.

Having just read an absolute piece of dreck ('The Memory Keeper's Daughter'), I was relieved to have my faith in the possibilities of good writing restored.

Highly recommended.
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