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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All-encompassing, fascinating, and full of the rich detail of a community,
A multi-generational tale of community, Galore is set in a small fishing village in Newfoundland - exactly when and exactly where are not revealed. The story begins with the death of a whale, and a shocking discovery inside its belly.
It tracks generations of two families, the Sellers and the Devines, and their rivalries, grudging inter-dependence, secret romances and superstitions.
The village is entirely dependent on the mercy of the ocean - to provide their food, to return their sailors home safe, to not wash away their homes. Year after year, babies are born, people die, people marry, hopes are raised and dashed, and the ocean is there for it all, along with the mystery the dead whale brought.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. Galore is a treat to read, by turns dark and slippery, funny and quirky, heartbreaking and tragic, and the people feel real enough to touch. Their stories can't be put down. I recommend it highly.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasures Galore,
Michael Crummey who is a friend and a writer I admire, I'll admit that off the bat, has done a remarkable job with this book.
Galore is a book inspired by the mythology of Newfoundland. I'm going to quote from the Globe and Mail review here because I simply can't say it any better:
"The novel opens with a group of people in the fictional Newfoundland outport of Paradise Deep, slaughtering a whale that has inexplicably beached itself. Young Mary Tryphena watches as the body of a man, pale and stinking, is cut from the whale's belly. Her grandmother, an old crone named Devine's Widow, defies the town oligarch, King-me Sellers, and has the man carried up the hill to prepare him for a proper burial.
"The man, it turns out, is in fact alive, though he cannot speak a word. In the spirit of compromise and illiteracy, he is given the name of Judah. He never does utter a word, and he never loses his stench, but his presence ignites a spark in Paradise Deep that sustains the story for multiple generations.
"Crummey's prose is flawless. He has a way with the colloquial that escapes many writers, an ability to make the idiosyncrasies of local speech an asset in creating an image in the reader's mind.
''They'd scaled the whale's back to drive a stake with a maul, hoping to strike some vital organ, and managed to set it bleeding steadily. They saw nothing for it then but to wait for God to do His work and they sat with their splitting knives and fish prongs, with their dip nets and axes and saws and barrels. The wind was razor sharp and Mary Tryphena lost all feeling in her hands and feet and her little arse went dunch on the sand while the whale expired in imperceptible increments. Jabez Trim waded out at intervals to prod at the fat saucer of an eye and report back on God's progress.''
The book, while being about the stories Newfoundlanders have told for generations, is also about those very generations of Newfoundlanders, the story-tellers, the priests, the mummers, the fishermen and sealers, the women who healed with herbs and midwifed, the merchants, the labor organizers, the fools and the visionaries.
The epigrams are from Gabriel Garcia Marquez - The invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love -- and the Psalms -- I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea. And certainly both influences are present in this book. Unrequited love does circle the waters here, with all the power and depth of the sea. For me, it worked, as did the moments of magical realism. For example, I had no trouble suspending disbelief when a dead man simply would not stop living with his wife.
But most of all, I was impressed with the way Crummey handles mystery and time. There are mysterious appearances, such as Judah's, and mysterious disappearances -- or in some cases, non-disappearances. The narrative ebbs and flows, but in circles, each tale overlapping like the generations of Devines (and the name is chosen deliberately, of course) and Sellers (again, deliberate name choice). There is a timeless, non-linear quality to the tale which I think is best exemplified in this lovely bit of prose:
"--Now the once, she said.
It was the oddest expression he'd learned on the shore. Now the once. The present twined with the past to mean soon, a bit later, some unspecified point in the future. As if it was all the same finally, as if time was a single moment endlessly circling on itself."
Therein lies the secret to this wonderful book, I think, and the clue as to the brilliant ending, which of course I won't give away. And don't let's forget the humor, please. Newfoundlanders make me laugh as no one else, expect perhaps the Irish. I'll let you discover those chuckles for yourself, and I hope you will... soon.
Well done, Michael, well done.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stretch your concept of reality,
If I have any complaints at all, they would be two. First, though I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, I found his extensive use of foul language a bit unnecessary and took a bit of getting used to. I don't think it added any realism that the rest of the story didn't already have and the book would have been better if it had been toned down a little.
The second problem I had was with the sheer number of characters to follow. At times I found myself flipping back to see how this person was related to that person. With all the families involved, it became pretty complex.
The two problems were minor enough that I still highly reccommend the book to anyone with an interest in social dynamics of isolation, or even just an interest in early life in a remote area. A very powerful read that will keep you thinking about the characters and situations long after you have closed the back cover.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down,
My latest discovery is Galore by Michael Crummey, released from Random House Canada.
Galore opens sometime in the past in rural Newfoundland. It is hard times and the locals are respectfully waiting for a whale to die before they butcher it. Devine's Widow slices open the belly and a naked man falls out. As they carry him to the graveyard, he suddenly awakes. Unknown to any of them, he cannot tell them who he is, as he is mute. They christen him Judah and his life is inevitably woven into the tapestry, lives and memories of the people of Paradise Deep.
Paradise Deep is an isolated fishing port, insulated from the rest of the country by geography and tradition. Populated by characters both unusual, yet captivating, Galore is a mesmerizing read. It traces the intertwined lives of the residents through many generations. There is a magical feel to the book. Devine's Widow placed a curse many years ago on King-Me Sellers and his descendants. She is feared, yet revered by many. The fact that it is she who takes in Judah further builds her legend. Galore is the story of these two families and their descendants.
There are supernatural elements introduced, many taken from Newfoundland folklore and legends that Crummey discovered while researching his book. Baptism by passing a child through the branches of an ancient apple tree, a ghost who is seen by many but refuses to leave, superstitions and traditions that are accepted as part of their lives.
Dr. Newman, an American who comes to Paradise Deep "felt at times he'd been transported to a medieval world that was still half fairy tale."
But it is also the story of a rugged land and the resilient people who populate it. Politics and the formation of a fisheries union bring the world to Paradise Deep in the second half of of the book. But the past and history of the Rock is always there, coming full circle by the last page.
Crummey himself is Newfoundland born and bred and his voice captures the tone and timbre of a land and it's people.
I was quite sad to turn the last page. I had become completely caught up in Galore.
This was the first of Crummey's books that I had read and it definitely won't be the last. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Galore,
This review is from: Galore: A novel (Paperback)The service was excellent and I am happy with the condition of the book. I look forward to reading this book as I have enjoyed other books by Michael Crummy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Folklore at its Finest,
This review is from: Galore: A novel (Paperback)I'm not usually a fan of multi-generational stories but this one blew me away. It's not just the story of one family, but of an entire village. At some points heartbreaking, at some points laugh out loud funny, it's always interesting, gripping and entertaining. I should have expected anything when there was a man born out of the belly of a whale at the beginning, but I was still constantly surprised by the otherworldly aspects of the story.
If you're looking for a lush read full of interesting characters and skilled writing, then buy Galore.
4.0 out of 5 stars Between history and fantasy,
After a brief glimpse into a later period, Crummey moves quickly back in time to Mary Tryphena's childhood when a whale beached itself on the shore of Paradise Deep. The villagers, desperate for food after another meager fishing season and an icy-cold winter of scarcity, can hardly wait to cut up the animal's flesh. Just then, as Mary Tryphena's grandmother, Devine's Widow, pulls the body from the whale's belly, the figure starts coughing up water, blood and small fishes...! He is fully grown and cuts an unusual figure among the locals: he is completely white from head to toe, and his smell of rotten fish is so overpowering that nobody wants to be near him...
The locals, God-fearing yet illiterate, and with the itinerant priest not due for a visit for some time, cannot agree which biblical name belongs to the "story with the whale" and, as a compromise, decide on "Judah". Suspicion follows the strange figure from the outset - not just physically is he an oddity, he also appears to be mute. The villagers easily blame him for all the mishaps that are befalling them. Until, one day, Judah one leads them to the most amazing catch...
Much of Crumney's narrative is focused on the ongoing strife between the Devine family, the most important clan in The Gut, who have "adopted" Judah, and the Seller clan who control Paradise Deep, wealthy merchants who exert their power over the communities by any means,legal or not. The clans' dispute has a long history, going back to Devine's Widow and King-me Seller, yet, over the generations it has turned into a constant, often violent, rivalry between the Irish and West-Country English, between the poor fisher folks and the merchants/land owners. The different church representatives also compete for the souls of the villagers. Much influence rests with some of the local women; they play an important role in both contributing to and smoothing the generational conflicts. Not only do they have a central role here, they are, very convincingly, depicted as the carriers of tradition and, sometimes, magical powers... The local dialect of the time is prominent throughout the frequent dialogs and takes some getting used to. It adds, however, a special flair to the narrative.
Crummey weaves an intricate six-generation tapestry of the two clans and the people around them that it is sometimes difficult not to get lost in the interrelationships between characters, despite thme being fully developed. For his factual backdrop, the author touches on various political developments in Newfoundland and introduces historical figures into the fictional world he has created. While the author never loses his interest in the local communities, some of the (historical and other) side developments take away some of the magic of the narrative's central drive and focus. To help the reader through the myriad of names that come to life in the story, a genealogical chart is displayed upfront. While such a chart is useful, given the wealth of characters, it does reveal some linkages that are better discovered only in due course. All in all this is a rich tale that will attract those readers in particular who have an interest in the history of the island of Newfoundland. [Friederike Knabe]
4.0 out of 5 stars Exudes Newfoundland,
This review is from: Galore: A novel (Paperback)Having had travelled to Newfoundland I found the author had captured the people, places and the folklore of the land. The story reflected the harshness of existence on the Rock.
4.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read,
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This review is from: Galore: A novel (Paperback)I really enjoyed this novel,with its mix of realism and magic.The characters were engaging and I was drawn into the world of rural Newfoundland;the rugged unforgiving landscape,the power and mystery of the ocean, and the determined people who live there.It was the perfect novel for a rainy weekend at the cabin.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Galore by Michael Crummey,
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Thoughtfully, the author provides a geneological table for his readers, as the story covers several generations
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Galore: A novel by Michael Crummey (Paperback - July 6 2010)
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