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The Sentimentalists Paperback – Oct 1 2009

2.1 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Paperback, Oct 1 2009
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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Gaspereau Press; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554470781
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554470785
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,019,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"a solid debut and a beautiful tribute to a father-daughter relationship." (Globe and Mail 2010-10-15)

"Skibsrud knows what she’s doing: The slow fuse of the novel’s first half turns out to be a very effective setup for the explosive second." (National Post 2010-11-13)

"The writing here is trip-wire taut as the exploration of guilt, family and duty unfolds." (Giller Jury 2010-11-09)

"[Skibsrud's] book is an affirmation of why we still try -- why we still use words to reclaim history, to imagine another's pain, to hold onto what is human in the face of violence and chaos. The Sentimentalists may be profoundly sad, but Skibsrud also reminds us that sadness is not the same as hopelessness." (Winnipeg Review 2011-01-06)

"The Sentimentalists beautifully examines the profound affect memories can have not only on an individual, but on all those close to him...The poet's touch is evident throughout...Skibsrud approaches the English language more like an art form, and less like a science. Her carefully composed passages use a sort of philosophical prose to understanding her topics of memory...The Sentimentalists, with its poetic elegance, eloquently describes the never-ending struggle to remember, to simplify and to understand." (Critics at Large 2011-03-02)

"Napoleon Haskell's life has always been a mystery to his daughter -- he was a drifter, an alcoholic and an ex-marine who has never spoken about what happened one night in Vietnam. As he slips into senility, his daughter tries to pull together the crumbling fragments of his memory into a narrative that will explain their dysfunctional family." (More Magazine 2011-06-01)

"A hypnotic meditation on memory, it reaffirms the potential for storytelling to offer clarity and redemption." (Hirsh Sawhney New York Times 2011-07-01)

"This is less a novel with a single plot than the stories of three characters and their layered, intersecting identities...I recommend it for the book it is rather than the story it's become." (Geist 2011-07-01)

"This novel takes a quirky and lyrical look at the long-lasting effects of the Vietnam war on a family and their friends across both the American and Canadian borders." (Winnipeg Free Press 2011-08-13)

"...a slender but deeply contemplative novel..." (NOW Magazine 2011-10-20) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Johanna Skibsrud’s first poetry collection, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys, was published in 2008 by Gaspereau Press and was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award. She has also published a novel with Gaspereau Press entitled The Sentimentalists. Originally from Scotsburn, Nova Scotia, she now lives in Montreal.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The publicity this book has received, and the fact that it is award winning, reminds me of the accolades received by many academy award winning movies. It is evident that literary scholars find this book a wonderful read. As an individual who reads books for entertainment, I found this book to be slow and without flow. Half way into the book I found myself reading the back cover to ensure that I had purchased the book whose description I had read - the synopsis on the back sounds very intriguing, but the book seemed aimless. Again, this may be because I am just a `lay person' and as such am unable to fully appreciate the author's literary genius. Similar to leaving some Oscar award winning movies, after completing this book I am left asking myself what all the fuss is about.
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By Dorothyanne Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 24 2011
Format: Paperback
I eagerly bought a copy of this book as an ebook when I heard the press about it. I lost entire patience with it halfway through - phrases purple with tristesse, sloppy editing, and a thin storyline that was totally inadequate for such a prize. I actually pointed out phrases that made me laugh to a stranger on the train, unable to believe such a book had received such aplomb.
I've since read "The Matter With Morris", another contender, and it was a much more mature, solid entry and much more worth the reading time.
That said, it's worth a read, if only to give you hope that you, too, could win the Giller.
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Format: Paperback
I was really excited when I bought my copy of "The Sentimentalist." Giller Prize winners are usually a safe purchase. Not so this time I'm afraid. The poetic writing so highly praised by the critics gets in the way of what could have been a great story. By the middle of the book I had to force myself to keep reading. The writing is so awkward I never connected with any of the characters and the emotional aspect of the story only existed on the back cover. The second half of the book picks up a little for a short time and then falls flat. I was glad when it was over. Save your money. Visit your library if you really want to read this.
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Format: Paperback
I've read 160 of the 216 pages and could not push myself to read any further. Wordiness without saying much of anything, frustrating punctuation and sentences that run on forever. Giller award? Really? I'll not purchase reading material based on a literary award again.
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps her writing style is just not my cup of tea.. I couldn't even finish the book. Like many others, I'm surprised it won the Giller,...
maybe I was expecting too much? I don't know...I find the story just didn't flow well...sentences were wayyyyyyyyy too long.
It felt like this (example): "so we went into the kitchen - which my father had built back in 1951 with some wood he had found at the bottom of a lake we used to always bathe in in the summer - and the heat from the sun had melted all the chocolate on the new oak table - which i assumed he left there on purpose - and I was wondering if my mother would find out, would she finally divorce him? " WHAT? I found myself loosing focus way too often to the
point where I just gave up.
Not to mention the NUMEROUS punctuation mistakes and grammar errors. Someone told me the publishing house ran out of stock so they had to rush
to get more printed...not sure if it's true, but it would explain the punctuation and grammar errors, but still...not excusable.
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Format: Paperback
I was anxious to read this book, mostly because of the Giller prize but also because the author is originally from the Maritimes. As well, I liked the backstory with Gaspereau Press (how they negotiated with other publishers to make more copies of the book available without sacrificing their principles too much). I was a bit disappointed with the book itself though, but maybe it's only because I was expecting too much. The writing style was like some poetry I've read: precise (excessively?), analytical, and a bit choppy, with contorted sentences. Lots of clauses, commas and dashes, but instead of assisting the story it felt like the author was perhaps trying too hard (maybe that was the point, and I just missed it?). On the other hand, the author exhibits real awareness and insight regarding the psychology of the characters and their relations with each other.
With respect to the novel's overall plot, I've read reviews where the reviewer praised the slow build to a big finish, but that wasn't my impression. The father's experiences in Vietnam are descibed in such vague terms (deliberately, of course) that it isn't really clear what took place or how these events subsequently influenced the rest of his life. That's not necessarily bad, as it does say something interesting about the nature of memory and about how we construct a narrative after something happens that may be linked to "what really happened" only indirectly. And about how hard a person's life is to figure out, let alone to describe in a novel. I just don't know how successfully this strategy was used in The Sentimentalists.
Overall, not a bad book at all, but I think the fact that it was awarded the Giller might say more about the people who made up the jury this year than it does about the book itself.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like others, I grabbed this book due to the accolades awarded. And, like others, I enjoyed the story behind both the author and the book's publisher, however it's the book's guts that really count; the words on the pages are the supposed gift, right? Not so much. I loved the poetic license Skibsrud took with her writing style. It was fresh and natural and had a stream-of-consciousness feel that read with a breathless ease. With that said, I also thought she should have used it more selectively because it became too formulaic and rigid especially during the Vietnam section.

The book's plot was generally a home-run - you can't go wrong with a drunkard-yet-sweet father whose daughter tries to unearth his participation in the Vietnam war - but Skibsrud's execution was a little chaotic and lacking. I wanted more about Vietnam especially since it was such a pivotal piece of who the father was; why he did the things he did. This failure showed a weakness in Skibsrud's toolkit, one that will definitely improve as she continue publishing.

Would I recommend the book? I would recommend the first 105 pages, where Skibrud shines, using her talent to describe commonplace as anything but.
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