A Novel

Book - 2014
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For twelve generations, when the fish were plentiful and when they all-but disappeared, the inhabitants of this remote island in Newfoundland have lived and died together. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, they are facing resettlement, and each has been offered a generous compensation package to leave. But the money is offered with a proviso: everyone has to go; the government won't be responsible for one crazy coot who chooses to stay alone on an island. That coot is Moses Sweetland. Motivated in part by a sense of history and belonging, haunted by memories of the short and lonely time he spent away from his home as a younger man, and concerned that his somewhat eccentric great-nephew will wilt on the mainland, Moses refuses to leave. But in the face of determined, sometimes violent, opposition from his family and his friends, Sweetland is eventually swayed to sign on to the government's plan. Then a tragic accident prompts him to fake his own death and stay on the deserted island. As he manages a desperately diminishing food supply, and battles against the ravages of weather, Sweetland finds himself in the company of the vibrant ghosts of the former islanders, whose porch lights still seem to turn on at night.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2014
ISBN: 9780385663168
Branch Call Number: CRUMM
Characteristics: 322 pages


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Jan 19, 2020

This book was well written, but just meh overall. It got quite high ratings by other folks, & I don’t know why.

Oct 12, 2018

This novel has an interesting structure. The second half of the novel takes an unexpected turn and the story becomes something quite different from what it started out as. It keeps you a bit unbalanced as many parts are open to your interpretation. Very character driven with lots of atmosphere. A well written, unique book.

Jul 02, 2018

I absolutely loved this book, especially in the last half when you don't quite know if Sweetland is losing his hold on reality. If you enjoy character-driven novels with a strong sense of place, you'll love this book. If you want fast action, this won't be a favorite.

Feb 16, 2018

Michael Crummey's wistfully haunting novel, mesmerizing in its melancholy focus on how fateful and fleeting life is. Magnified all the more being set on an island, off the southern Newfoundland coast, with the lead character's on-going experiences interspersed and framed by memory spilling its contents into his consciousness. The notion of abandonment (people, place, opportunity) unnervingly acute. Sweetland offers a pearl of insight into life on the edge of Newfoundland.

Oct 25, 2017

It looked like it would be a good story, but I just couldn't stand the guy reading it. Why on earth would they pick a stuffy British accent, some pommy toff, to read a Newfoundland story??! I couldn't get past it. I may try to read the print version, but it will take awhile to get that bad taste out of my ears.

Jul 25, 2017

I am in the minority, but I did not love this book. It was a bit of a chore to read, but I stuck it out because it was for my Book Club. Moses is a great character, the community is full of diverse and interesting people, but it just didn't grab my interest. I enjoyed the second half more, and I did want to find out what happened, but not a 'must read' for me.

Mar 19, 2017

A wonderful novel. I couldn't help loving the main character, Sweetland, crazy and misguided as he was. This is the second novel I've read by this author and I loved them both.

Jan 29, 2017

Take me back b'y! While not a Newfie myself, but a visitor often enough to have an opinion, Crummey has painted a vivid picture of a people and a land. It takes a certain grit to live on an island where life is pared down to the bare essence. There is so much hard work involved in scraping together a life on this rock, and yet those who move away pine for it as if they had been cast from Eden. I know I'm too soft to survive the hardship of life out there, but it is fascinating to glimpse into the minds of my heartier forefathers. Sweetland is the closest thing I've read to recreating the sense of a place.

Jan 03, 2016

Excellent book...well developed characters, sense of place and storyline. Reminded me somewhat of the another excellent book titles 'Rockbound' by Frank Parker Day. Recommended. On the longlist for CBC's Canada Reads 2016.

Dec 22, 2015

the story touches you heart. i want to read it again sometime in the future. there is no definite division between past and present, dreams and reality, the hero's thoughts and what happening at the present. could be confusing.

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Dec 30, 2014

"Slept in the wheelhouse under an old blanket with a pair of coveralls rolled up as a pillow. The mauze lifted a little at first light and he thought he might be able to pick his way home. Had the island in sight when the mist muffled in, so thick he couldn't see ten feet past the bow."

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