The Find Paperback – Apr 1 2010
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Quill & Quire
Kathy Page’s latest novel opens with the discovery of an enormous prehistoric fossil in remote B.C. Anna Silowski, a renowned palaeontologist and consummate heartbreaker, is prospecting in the native community of Big Crow when, after separating from her colleagues, she stumbles upon what appears to be a giant spinal column protruding from the riverbed shale. It’s soon clear that the fossilized skeleton belongs to a previously undiscovered genus of winged reptile. It is the find of Anna’s career.
But this is not a novel about a palaeontological excavation. (Indeed, for all the hype given to the winged beast in the early part of the novel, we never really learn much about the thing.) Anna is a woman with issues: a fear of commitment, a quasi-incestuous relationship with her brother, and a 50/50 chance of inheriting a degenerative neurological disease. All of which are unearthed in the novel’s first chapters. It’s soon apparent that the main focus is not the unique fossil, but Anna herself.
Page is particularly adept at sustaining tension and releasing it. The book’s weakness, however, is the character of Anna. She fails to become a captivating protagonist, despite (or, rather, because of) the litany of personal obstacles facing her. After a lengthy and extraneous exposition of Anna’s history, Page shies away from revealing much of her heroine’s motives in the novel’s second half. As a result, Anna becomes increasingly enigmatic. As well, Anna’s reliance on Scott, a pothead-with-potential from Big Crow, yields many awkward and unnatural moments, frequently steering the book into melodrama.
The awkwardness and lack of explanation could be deliberate, a manifestation of Anna’s dormant brain disease. But this implication is not explored, and as a result, it’s difficult for the reader to feel much empathy for Page’s protagonist.
“The clash of conflicting desires, subterfuge, uncomfortable triangling and a profound difference in values with regard to the past, all keep us turning the pages.” (Globe and Mail)
"Kathy Page is one of our most daring writers. Once again she delivers a riveting, superbly paced novel of great complexity. Like a palaeonotologist herself, she chisels away at the layers of a story that initially reads as a thriller, meticulously and precisely laying bare the tender love story underneath. If you don't know Page's work yet, she's a find." (Caroline Adderson, author of Sitting Practice)
"When it comes to fiction, Kathy Page is at the top of the class . . . Page delivers with The Find" (Gulf Islands Driftwood)
"Page is...a compelling storyteller" (Victoria Times-Colonist)
“The Find is a thoughtful book, handling its difficult issues with tact and sensitivity. Gripping…A book more about ideas than events, with sympathetic characterisation which uses two difficult issues to illuminate each other.” (Geranium Cat’s Bookshelf)
"The Find is an intricate and suspenseful narrative that soars several times past haunting catastrophe, and lands with the skeletal grace of the winged prehistoric creature at its core. This is a book that stirs admiration for both the characters and their author." (Pearl Luke, author of the award-winning Madame Zee)
"The Find is a compelling story of contemporary life and a quest to transmute our evolutionary inheritance of primitive emotions—ambition, lust, fear of death-- into love and reason. The story—beautifully—inhabits the uncharted space between." (Marilyn Bowering)
"Kathy Page reminds us what a novel can do that almost nothing else can: take elements as different as dinosaur hunting, landclaims, inherited disease, and abuse of power, and link them with grace and necessity. Above all, this is a love story of the rarest kind: one with something new to say." (Fred Stenson, author of The Great Karoo)
"Page’s vivid descriptions pulled me right into Anna and Scott’s world ... it’s a multifaceted novel that almost reads like a literary thriller" (She Reads and Reads)
“An exceptional novel of mystery, relationships, and discovery. The Find is a daring and thrilling treat.” (The Lethbridge Herald)
Top Customer Reviews
Page takes you by the hand and pulls you through the difficult terrain her central characters, Anna Silowski and Scott Macleod inhabit. They start from very different places but a chance meeting, at the edge of a cliff draws them together and together they become a formidable team. Both have impossible situations to deal with, events their past colour their approaches to their potential futures. As the novel progresses they are drawn deeper and deeper beneath the surface leaving them and the reader with so much more to find.
The novel is multifaceted , the descriptions of place and character, past and present, relationship and conflict, are breathtaking and the plot shifts and twists with speed and grace. The writer shows you the best and worst of people and situations with a clear, unflinching gaze, taking you to places you'd rather not go but showing you that there can be unexpectedly satisfying resolutions to many difficult situations.
The Find is a mystery, a thriller and a love story, hard to put down, an unmissable read and Kathy Page is a writer whose work continues to dazzle.
I have some trepidation when I pick up a new book from a much-loved author, fearing that it can't live up to previous work. So when I saw that The Find centred around palaeontology, something about which I know nothing, I have to admit I was worried. No need, however!
Much of the plot is woven around the excavations and the rival teams working on this amazing new Find with all the politics you'd expect and a professional secret to boot. But there was just enough detail to feel I was learning something without finding myself skimming - which sometimes happens when the terminology is too alien.
The characters, as usual, are complex and fascinating. Although I quickly suspected a new relationship was forming, I knew it wouldn't be simple and wasn't disappointed. There's a more unusual theme running through in the form of inherited diseases. MC, Anna Silowski's attitude towards her potential to inherit HD, and the testing for it, is interesting and emotive.
The pace picks up when the protestors arrive and I found myself desperate for the excavation not to be stopped ' even though I had sympathies with the protestors and their different take on the past. That's something I particularly like about The Find and Kathy Page's writing in general; the plots are never one dimensional, you're always thinking.
My only criticism would be the title. I just didn't find it memorable or particularly enticing but that might be a personal thing. I mention it only that if you have the same reaction, don't let it put you off.
I would thoroughly recommend The Find, with no prior knowledge of palaeontology necessary. If you like an un-flowery read but a complex plot and unconventional characters, you'll love this.