Set in the hardscrabble outports of Newfoundland, Galore is a glorious jumble of small town gossip, fishing lore, superstition, and the limits of human endurance. In the opening scene, young Mary Tryphena watches as the body of a man is cut from the belly of a beached whale. This mute and stinking survivor will eventually become her husband. As the years pass in this tiny impoverished community- births, loves and deaths occur, mistakes are repeated, and the strange stories of village life present a wonderful portrait of Canada’s east coast.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We were fascinated by Cummey’s literary device of setting the first half of the novel free of historical time. Until the appearance of the doctor, you had no idea whether the villagers were living in the 16th century or the 20th century -so little had their harsh lives changed over the generations. We enjoyed the rich characterization and the astonishing details of daily life -even the evocative names (Devine’s Widow, King-Me!). The language, the folklore and the landscape were all brought to life. The book can be heavy going as there are dozens of characters to keep straight -probably best to read it for long stretches rather than dip into it. Highly recommended.