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I really enjoyed this book, and have thought about it often since finishing. The writing is beautiful - waves are ”wind tents of blue moving in the jewelled sunlight” - and the author vividly captures what it feels like to be a child. It is through Caitlin’s eyes we see her parents, cousin and extended family, and as she grows into her teen years and young adulthood, and we feel the confusion, pain and desires of a child whose mother is dying from cancer, and who cannot fully understand the strong undercurrents of anger, resentment, duty, fatigue and expectations that flow through her family dynamics. As Caitlin matures, some mysteries are revealed; unfolding both naturally and yet are startling. I can’t help but think there are many parents who believe they will reveal secrets to their children once their offspring are older - but what happens when that is not possible? The mysteries of our origins, and our parent’s very human hearts, can haunt us. This was a fast read - I finished it in a day, but still reflect upon it. You can feel the sun on your skin and the cold water you are swimming in as a child - those days will come back to you.
Catherine Graham uses her sophisticated poetic eye and ear to bring alive this gripping story of young Caitlin Maharg, as she and her family love their way through devastating loss and family intrigue. The setting is a character in its own right, remote, haunting, and beautiful. You won't want to put this novel down, even after you've finished reading. Graham's writing is magic!
Quarry is a deftly written coming-of-age tale that flows like a strong current from the first page to the last. Its protagonist comes to see her world with a fierce compassion for its flaws and beauties, bringing the reader through a landscape of unexpected turns. Highly recommended.
Quarry won The Miramichi Reader’s 2018"The Very Best!" Book Award for Best Fiction. And well deserved too! Graham writes beautifully and creates a great sense of place and time in this coming-of-age story. The characters, setting and story all felt very real, and reminded me of Alice Munro’s writing, in the ability to "embed more than announce, reveal more than parade." There are unexpected plot twists, and the pacing was great too, right to the end.
I read this book in one sitting and have been thinking about it ever since. The book is beautifully crafted, the prose so lush. The quarry, and Caitlin's relationship with it, exerted a powerful draw and I felt anxious when Caitlin was away from the Quarry. This is a must-read, a powerful novel by a well-known poet and now novelist. Brava, Catherine Graham!
Graham’s poetry writing is evident in her spare prose. Lots of space for the reader to use their imagination to flesh out a scene, feel an emotion. Graham doesn’t spoon feed the reader, so unlike some novels where your mind can wander and still keep up with the details, you have to give your full attention to this book. Blink and you will miss something important that you didn’t see coming. The plot is most definitely not typical but the way it unfolds and all the characters in it feel very authentic.
An unexpected bonus, the novel is set in southern Ontario primarily in 2 small towns, Ridgeway and Grimsby. My husband grew up in Ridgeway, which I now know well from visiting his family, and both of us had vivid images of all the places Graham mentioned. He has very fond memories of swimming in Sherkston Quarry.
Beautifully told and heart wrenching. Catherine’s poetic sensibilities weave into a story of profound grief while coming of age. Elegantly developed characters so dimensional they felt familiar. The quarry itself was richly characterized. I wanted to read it slowly but I just couldn’t. So I’ll have to read it again just to enjoy the language. Very highly recommended.
After taking a wonderful 5-day intensive Creative Writing workshop with Catherine Graham, "Quarry" was on my must-read pile of books. Very quickly once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. This is an excellent book, clearly written by a poet who understands the beauty of language, and is a wonderful telling of an engaging story. Thank you Catherine –– I have now passed it on to Victoria Cowan's book pile.