Galore opens with a quote from Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which is appropriate since Michael Crummey’s novel bears the clear influence of Marquez’s work. Like Marquez’s seminal novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, Galore takes place in a small town over the course of several generations, focused on the members of one central family, many of whom have similar names, and certain elements of the story play with magical realism. Crummey, an accomplished poet as well as a novelist, also shares Marquez’s knack for haunting, evocative language, which paints a vivid and otherworldly portrait of his setting on the Newfoundland coast during the 19th century.
Narrator John Lee is a perfect match for Crummey’s style, his almost musical voice augmenting the already folkloric way that Crummey tells the story. Lee brings a lovely lilt to the voices of the Irish-immigrant characters, and differentiates them with subtle inflections. That’s important, because the novel introduces dozens of characters over the course of its sprawling narrative, all tied together loosely by Judah Devine, a mute albino man who’s discovered alive in the belly of a whale as the story begins. Judah serves as a sort of totem for the small fishing village where he ends up, and while his arrival is probably the most fantastical event in Crummey’s story, it presages other mystical happenings that are seamlessly interwoven with the cycle of birth, marriage, and death that forms the history of the village.
Lee wades through all of it elegantly, jumping from one character to another with ease. The way that Crummey obscures the passage of time is one of Galore’s most appealing elements, and Lee navigates those transitions smoothly, carrying the listener on a journey that had the potential to be disorienting in the hands of a less assured performer. Instead, it’s captivating and transporting, and the credit for that goes to both Crummey and Lee. Josh Bell
When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon.
Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.
With Paradise Deep, award-winning novelist Michael Crummey imagines a realm in which the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to discern. Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.
Michael Crummey is a poet and storyteller, as well as the author of the critically acclaimed novels River Thieves and The Wreckage and the short-story collection Flesh and Blood. He has been nominated for the Giller Prize, the IMPAC Dublin Award, and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and he won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Canada for Galore. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
©2009 Michael Crummey Ink (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Crummey lovingly carves out the privation and inner intricacies that mark his characters' lives with folkloric embellishments and the precision of the finest scrimshaw." (Publishers Weekly)
Galore is a spellbinding novel set in far away Newfoundland. Author Crummey uses his exotic but fiercely real homeland to create the setting for a novel which is by turns magical and real.
The Divine family takes in a stranger who slips from the belly of a beached whale. We follow the Divines and other families of the small shore village through generations, as they adapt to changes in faith and fisheries on the North Atlantic.
John Lee's narration is outstanding as always. His sonorous voice and the prose of the book were so engaging that I found myself swept away and needed to backtrack a few times to follow the story.
Galore is outstanding, but not perfect. I enjoyed the magical realism, but other readers may find it a bit too woo-woo...... 4 1/2 stars.
I'm glad that I didn't read any reviews of this book before I started it; if I had, I probably would never have picked it up. I'm not a fan of so-called "magical realism" and likely would never use that term to describe Michael Crummey's Galore. Yes, it has its mystical components, but they are well woven into the traditions, history, and lore of Paradise Deep, the remote Newfoundland fishing village in which the novel is set. This is a huge multi-generational saga focused on the conflicts and convergences of two extended families, the Devines and the Sellerses. A word of advice: I listened to the book on audio, and while John Lee is one of my favorite narrators and did a wonderful job with this material, I might have enjoyed the book more had I read it in print. I found myself floundering at times to remember exactly who the characters were and how they were related, wishing that I had some kind of family tree or cast of characters to help me out. (I understand that there is such a family tree in the print version.)
If you've read other reviews, you know that the novel opens with the residents of Paradise Deep gathered on shore to harvest a whale, and when they cut into its belly, a pale young man emerges, half-dead. Taken in and brought back to health by the the matriarch of the Devine family, he is named Judah, and he becomes legendary for the whiteness of his skin and hair and for the smell of decaying fish about him that can't be washed away. Judah never complains--in fact, never speaks--whether he is being accused of a crime that he did not commit, married off to the Widow Devine's granddaughter, sent out to sea with the fishing crews, imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, or committed to a lunatic's cell.
But Judah is only one of the fascinating characters whose stories spin out in Galore and its series of feuds between Anglican and Catholic, rich and poor, union members and company bosses, accusers and accused, ghosts and the living, husbands and wives, and more. Crummy's eye for description and detail and his unique yet realistic characters draw the reader into the world of Paradise Deep and the dilemmas faced by its inhabitants. It is a world that I hope he will allow us to visit once again in another novel.
The character I found most intriguing was Newman, a young Connecticut doctor who signs and perennially renews a contract to serve the people of Paradise Deep. On his first day, he falls madly in love with Bride, a pregnant young woman about to be married who has come to request that all her teeth be pulled. Newman hides his passion for years, seeing Bride through a difficult childbirth and waiting well beyond her widowing to speak of his feelings. He is both an outsider and a fixture of the town as the years proceed, and his insights as both allow the reader a fuller assessment of the inhabitants.
If you are a fan of multi-generational sagas, as I am, you will enjoy meeting the Sellerses, the Devines, and their neighbors and watching the progress of their lives and families. I'm looking forward to reading more of Crummey's work
The first time I started to listen to this, I was doing it passively and waiting for the book to draw me in. After half an hour or so, I gave up in frustration, unable to keep up with the fast-paced character introductions. The second time I tried, I gave it my full attention, and let it take me where it would. Soon, I was hooked and loving the ride. John Lee's narration is wonderful and enhances Crummey's multi-generational tale. The book reminds me of the oral histories I heard as a child in upstate New York, rich and familiar. The characters are immigrants from Ireland, many still speaking Gaelic, and like immigrants everywhere, they carry their histories and prejudices with them. Their society is divided by status and wealth, as most are, but the individuals are well-drawn and compelling.
I didn't know much about Newfoundland, but this was a good introduction. Now I'd like to visit.
This is a long, beautiful genealogy of a Newfoundland town that is forever altered by the appearance of an albino man found in the belly of a whale is superbly narrated by John Lee. The inhabitants of this town are affected and unaffected by world events and Michael Crummey does a fantastic job of describing the insularity and deprivation of a small fishing village that is dragged into the early twentieth century.
I started into this book thinking that I had really picked a winner. The prose was really beautiful and the story started off with great characters and setting. But it really seemed to go on and on with so many characters that it was hard to feel invested in any of them. Perhaps I was supposed to be feeling invested in the place itself, but that didn't happen. Instead, I found myself tuning out and generally, hoping it would end soon.
The voice was excellent and the recording was too.
Female, love a good mystery, Victorian English literature and love to laugh (Dickens, Austen, Trollepe, Wodehouse, Gaskell, Elliot
Very poor writing (crummy) and the narration, in my view, ruined the listening experience. I felt the story lacked any sense of refinement and the crudeness unnecessary, no sense of feeling developed for any of the characters. I couldn't finish it.
I loved this book. It was a little hard to keep all the names straight, there are multiple generations of families. (My memory for names is not good anyway.) But it was beautifully written, very interesting to read. I actually wish I had read it instead of listening, partly to be able to go back and remember who was who and partly to savor the reading experience. John Lee is a great reader, too. I felt ( to my American ear) that the accents were understandable. But they were still definitely accents that take the listener to another time and place, allowing me gain insight into people living in a world very different from the one I am in.
Just couldn't get into it. Didn't hold my interest, only book I haven't finished.
and a penny for your thoughts
I love "sagas" but found this very hard to follow. The jumping back and forth from one generation did not add add anything to the story and the author often repeats himself. To make it worse, the reader's monotone, sing-song style did not help. It's hard enough to tell when Lee switches between characters, as he does them all the same. Couple that with the confusing story line and this was not a winner for me. Perhaps this is one book that must be read to be appreciated. (or read by someone else)
Two hours into it and all I'm getting is the "Charlie Brown" wah wah wah wah. Can't take it anymore!
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