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Our Daily Bread [Paperback]

Lauren B Davis
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 17.99
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Book Description

March 26 2012

A novel about what happens when we view our neighbours as "The Other" and the transformative power of unlikely friendships; Our Daily Bread is inspired by the true story of the Goler Clan of Nova Scotia.

The God-fearing people of Gideon shun the Erskine Clan, who have lived on North Mountain in poverty, secrecy and isolation, believing their neighbours to be beyond salvation. "That's the mountain," they say. "What do you expect from those people?"

Yet in both groups nearly everyone has secrets and nothing is as it seems.

On the mountain, Albert Erskine dreams of a better and safer life for his younger brothers and sisters. He lives by his code: "You keep your secrets to yourself and you keep your weaknesses a secret and your hurts a secret and your dreams you bury double deep."

In town, young Ivy Evans is relentlessly bullied by her classmates. Though her father, Tom, is a well-liked local, his troubled marriage to a restless outsider is a source of gossip. As rumors and innuendo about the Evans family spread, Ivy seeks refuge in Dorothy Carlisle, an independent-minded widow who runs a local antique store.

When Albert ventures down the mountain and seizes on the Evanses' family crisis as an opportunity to befriend Ivy's vulnerable teenage brother, Bobby, he sets in motion a chain of events that changes everything.


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Review

*Starred Review* " Powerful, harrowing, and deeply unsettling. It keeps you reading as your blood pressure mounts...proceeds like a noose gradually tightening...stark, beautiful, sad and frankly terrifying...finely crafted, with careful attention to characterization, style, and pacing. It succeeds on every level." --Quill & Quire September 1, 2011

From the Publisher

Review

"Powerful, harrowing, and deeply unsettling. It keeps you reading as your blood pressure mounts... proceeds like a noose gradually tightening... stark, beautiful, sad and frankly terrifying... finely crafted, with careful attention to characterization, style, and pacing. It succeeds on every level." -- The Quill & Quire

"Absorbing, strikingly-written, and subtly-honed . . . a page-turner!" -- Gordon Hauptfleisch

"Full of remarkable moments . . . a level of detail that puts us in the beating hearts of imperiled souls . . . simple, brave, powerful scenes, skillfully written with an anger no less effective for being tempered - scenes that sit with the soul long after the book is closed." -- Alan Cuymn, The Globe & Mail

Named as one of the "Very Best Books of 2011" by The Globe & Mail and the Boston Globe.

"Thrilling . . . unflinching . . . unforgettable. Davis makes us care about her characters . . . imaginatively transformed by exquisite prose. Her moral fiction calls us to empathize, read, imagine and hear. This is a story of getting lost in the woods, of meeting the monster and getting out alive." -- Jean Randich, Truthdig.com

"I'll never forget this book, the sunning power of the descriptions, the attention to detail, the riveting plot, the fully-realized characters--this is storytelling at its very best." -- Duff Brenna, author of The Book of Mamie, The Holy Book of the Beard, Too Cool

"From the first chapter of OUR DAILY BREAD...I was hooked--by the characters, by the flow, by the clean, rhythmic prose." -- Thomas E. Kennedy, author of The Copenhagen Quartet

"Rendered with gorgeous prose, this compact, fast-moving novel features an astonishing range of tones, from hope to heartbreak, from black humor to white-knuckle terror." -- Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion


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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A searing novel not to be missed Sept. 14 2012
By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Lauren Davis is a writer born in Montreal, now living in Princeton, New Jersey. Our Daily Bread is a gripping novel inspired by the true story of the Goler clan of Nova Scotia.

It is a shocking and appalling story of torture, incest and abuse, all the more disturbing when you realize that these events actually took place, over many years and even generations, in supposedly civilized Canada (cf. On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets of the Goler Clan by David Cruise & Alison Griffiths).

Lauren Davis' fictionalized account presents the sordid situation, and asks the unavoidable question - how could this happen?

The answers are complex. As the brilliant social psychologist Henri Tajfel demonstrated, categorizing someone as "Other" has a profound impact on how they are perceived, how you interact with them, and ultimately how they perceive themselves and their opportunities - or lack thereof - in life.

The stage is set when the self-righteous people of Gideon ostracize the Erskine Clan, as ignorant, mountain-dwelling hillbillies.

Occasionally someone from the mountain dreams of escaping this isolation for a better life, but in cult-like fashion they have been indoctrinated by their elders that "Erskines don't talk, and Erskines don't leave." Despite the absence of physical bars, the mountain is a virtually unbreachable psychological prison.

Davis' writing is compelling, and the situation is dire. But perhaps most importantly, Our Daily Bread recounts some deep and disturbing truths about the human condition. As she quotes from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, "Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?"

Our Daily Bread is a searing novel not to be missed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MASTERFUL WRITING / DEEPLY MOVING Oct. 6 2011
By Cecilia
Lauren B Davis is a master in expressing human emotions and the realities of life.
This story is so sad, yet so hopeful.
From the start, I was swept into the world of this story, and the author's extraordinary writing style .
I read over 40 books a year, and this is the finest novel I have read in several years.
I give it 5 stars +
Cecilia
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgive Us This Day Feb. 2 2012
Lauren B. Davis writes books from a strong emotional and yet tender perspective.

With reference to the Lord's Prayer in the title, one expects to find inferences to the core traditions that religion can bring to a community and it's people. There is also a dark side, a brooding side to those tenants that can unravel, destroy and debase al that is good within any traditions of family. This is the paradox found within Our Daily Bread.

The story felt like an slow motion unfolding of real degradation. The true colours of the paradox of isolated pride of characters within the hidden horrors of abuse. The book exposes how the supposed prejudices against 'others' exist with the whispered wonderings of what really goes on 'there' and how the suppositions were mild compared to the reality.

I felt the strength of the characters, but it was a strength holding much discomfort and I recognized it somehow. Every evening as I read page after page, it was with a feeling of distaste for much that wasn't being said. It was like the 'elephant in the room,' where secrets hide other secrets. This book was so much about what wasn't written.

Our Daily Bread reinforced a reality in life, where ugly and evil does exist and can permeate a small community. Where rescue just didn''t happen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A crackin' good read! Nov. 28 2012
Format:Paperback
What a crackin' good read!

This story caught my attention because I grew up in Nova Scotia. I was about 13 when the Goler story broke and I clearly remember the shock and horror that ricocheted around the province when the truth about the unspeakable abuse came to light. The specter of abuse hangs in the background throughout the story (after some key crystalization in the first chapter) but it's ultimately not the focal point. Using that backdrop, Davis has done an amazing job of looking at the other side of the story - that is, from the point of view of the nearby town/community. It difficult not to be incredulous - how could people know or suspect that these horrible things were going on and nobody spoke up???

Davis emphasizes the concept of 'other' as the key to the apathy in the fictional town of Gideon. Years of ridicule, isolation and misunderstanding set up the perfect conditions for the Erskine clan to fester on the mountain. Townspeople being more interested in rolling their eyes at the latest bit of gossip rather than reaching out and speaking out. I especially enjoyed Davis' use of the 'good Christian' in Dorothy's friend Mabel to bring this point home.

Dorothy was my favourite character of the book. Smart, well-read, and charitable, but also flawed. She knew enough to provide clothes, food, books, etc., but not to call in the authorities? And Albert - such a tragic figure. I was routing for him all the way through. The final few chapters read like a pulse-pounding thriller - scary and creepy and excellent all at once.

I can see why 'Our Daily Bread' was nominated for the Giller prize. An excellent read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ... mountain folk and town folk) that this was a wonderfully sensitive...
I feel (as someone who lived in this community for a few years and know both mountain folk and town folk) that this was a wonderfully sensitive look at the common flaws that exist... Read more
Published 15 days ago by dirtwitch
5.0 out of 5 stars A RIVETING STORY!
This story is set in the fictional town of Gideon. The people who live in this town are from lower middle-class families. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Janet Babins
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative
I found this book very compelling. It stimulated me and also gave me hope for humanity! Very worthwhile reading and also entertaining.
Published 15 months ago by chris lamontagne
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story
Our Daily Bread is a powerful book about what happens when we view our neighbours as “the others.” The children of the mountain live a life of desperate poverty, sexual abuse, and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by R. Kohut
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly Beautiful Read.
Our Daily Bread is a wonderfully written and powerful book about a small town and some of its inhabitants. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Deborah in BC
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Story
Once again, through a story that compels and characters who engage, Lauren B. Davis takes the reader into some dark, disturbing places with OUR DAILY BREAD, her fifth book. Read more
Published on July 4 2012 by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST book of the YEAR
Without a doubt, this is the best book I've read in the past 12 months. Such great writing, an incredible story and characters that jump off the page. I highly receommend it.
Published on April 25 2012 by Slomacs
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
This story really drew me in, and I wasn't at all sure it would as the first chapter is quite grim. Having said that, I'm so glad I persevered as Our Daily Bread turned out to be... Read more
Published on April 18 2012 by Linda E Crosfield
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read...
Every one of Ms. Davis' books have a unique character: whimsical, romantic, dark..and her latest book adds yet another emotion. Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2011 by Sumanjula Laperriere
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