I was prepared to be ambivalent about this novel. I find Canadian novels bleak and overwrought with death, suffering and 'big thoughts'. This book was no exception, but since I am a history buff and work with the old books and manuscripts in the Reference Library, naturally I ploughed through. I clicked with David and with Jem Hallam [not the real life John Hallam, the late 19th c. businessman who was instrumental in getting Toronto to have a free public library, but I think it's serendipitous that his name is on this character. Mr. H. collected many books, esp. on the history of Canada]. I too have 'seen' the old cities superimposed on the modern one before me. I can almost feel the doggedness and the sorrow of the mourners at Potter's field as I pass the Bank of Commerce building that stands on its site. And I could relate to Mr. Hallam. I think any Toronto immigrant could. He found a cold money oriented city, but he gradually, through Ennis and Claudia, put down roots and made a sort of life, a sort of footprint in the city. Not with the panorama, though that helped.
The book needed those pictures. There are copies of the panorama at the National Archives and at the Reference Library. They should be seen in the book because That was the Toronto Hallam saw.
The writing is evocative and powerful, but pretentious in the modern sections. I wish that David had told the story before he died. He would have shown the city's roots with more passion than his family accepted it.
- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday Canada; 1st Edition edition (Aug. 29 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385659504
- ISBN-13: 978-0385659505
- Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 3.8 x 21.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 640 g
- Customer Reviews: 3 customer ratings
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
#2,538,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1709 in Canadian Collections & Readers