Sunday, April 22, 2018

First Snow, Last Light

Being born in the east coast (Nova Scotia), I was pleased to hear of Wayne Johnson's latest novel taking place in Newfoundland. Just like I enjoy reading a setting in Toronto, I'm also always curious to read stories from the Atlantic provinces. I also found Johnson's The Son Of A Certain Woman to be compelling, if not disturbing. I heard that it wasn't necessary to read the rest of the trilogy, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams or The Custodian of Paradise first. 

Johnson wonderfully developed the unusual story of a notorious St. John's family. I felt sympathy for teen Ned Vatcher when he came home from school to an empty house, and his parents never returned. He then lived with his sharp-tongued grandmother and mute & mysterious grandfather. 
Just like the landscape, Newfoundlanders are rugged and uncommon. Ned lived his life always searching for his disappeared parents. As an adult, he wasn't a personality I was drawn to though. Journalist and family friend Sheilagh Fielding was the most interesting, likable character. 
Just shy of 500 pages, this book was 200 pages too long. It dragged on, but luckily, we were given a satisfying conclusion.  

On love, Sheilagh tells us to "Never give all the heart" (W.B. Yeats). "Hold back something, just in case. Reserve an uncommitted space, however small, because the person will never be born who might not change. Leave something untainted by love, something that, in time, might redeem the rest."  

A passage about human nature that stood out for me was: "When virtue is tested, as ours was in those woods that night, it will not stand." 

"For even the most noble of souls, there is a set of circumstances under which the animal, or evil, will prevail. We are all such stuff as murder is made of." 

I received First Snow, Last Light in a GoodReads giveaway. 

Until next time,


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