Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

Some authors write beautifully. Others write sparingly or in a flowery fashion or have a style you can't quite name. Howard Norman writes simply and it works well for his latest, What Is Left the Daughter.

Set in a small Nova Scotia town during World War II, What Is Left the Daughter is really two love triangles laid atop each other and peopled with a small cast of odd but likable characters (the always-blunt Cornelia McTell was my favorite). The author could have written a 'village' novel, one in which we get to know and love the quirky characters of some little town along with their faults, foibles and families, their hopes and heartbreaks.
To his credit, he didn't. What he wrote was a story of murder, obsession, and suicide that is engaging, sad, and funny. It's a story of how people get lost and how they find themselves again.

There were times where it was a little hard to believe--the main character's occupation near the end and the series of coincidences that help shape events were a little too coincidental. Still, this is small beer because the story works. I will be certain to read Howard Norman again.

Favorite line:
"I could write a book--if I could write a book"

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