I had to work at this novel and was tempted several times to put it down. This doesn't happen to me often, but before I begin, a brief description of the book.
We follow Minnie, a television producer in Toronto, whose boss decides she needs a break at the same time her great uncle Rex asks her to come to Prince Edward Island to look after his house when he goes into a seniors home on a trial basis. On her adventures in PEI, she finds a simpler life, falls for a fisherman in the village and learns a little something along the way.
My first issue with this novel was McCormack's flair for language which I found over done. There were multiple words I was not familiar with and could not even figure out their context from the sentence, the first occurring on the third page. I have a university degree and am well read, yet this book had me rereading sentences over and over again as I got lost amidst her prose.
With this overuse of language though comes one of the positive things I discovered with this novel, and I wish I could have rated it a 1.5 star because of it, but the bad outweighed the good with this read. There were a few heavy scenes which were much stronger due to her writing style, although one of them I almost couldn't read because the narrative was too much. It may well be that McCormack's talent lies in writing in a genre other than chick lit. I found in her prose a few unique gems that have stayed with me including this passage describing a pick up truck: "But he had also forced a weapon into my hands, a ton of steel that could pop muscles open like grapes and squirt blood across the road like the Lord's ketchup." But unfortunately, others, such as "I didn't just drift off - I was swept to unconscious like flotsam in the path of effluent" or "The urine coloured sky" just didn't work for me.
This novel was well researched and the education I received about the fishing industry and environmental impact will remain with me. McCormack also highlighted such details in her previous novel Six Weeks to Toxic with the main character's role in the movie industry.
I wasn't able to relate to Minnie's character, had a distinct lack of empathy for her and couldn't figure out what drove her or what she even wanted. I found the plot slow, even her fast paced life in Toronto at the beginning of the novel and wasn't even sure much of that was even necessary. I thought the characterization and plot were lost in translation because of the over done writing. This novel left no emotional impression on me and I didn't care in the end what happened, although I did warm up slightly in the middle and became more curious as to what would happen, but by that point I had already been tempted to put the novel down several times.
The ending wasn't predictable, but didn't leave me satisfied either, although that might have been because I just didn't care as much about Minnie's adventures as I wanted to.