The setting is Walvern, a small village in rural Ontario, where everybody knows everybody else. Or they think they know them, for acquaintance can turn easily into gossip and suspicion. Peg Staynor, the heroine, becomes a victim of it, even as a child. For her curiously pale grey eyes and solitary manner play into local suspicions that she is a “river child,” the reincarnation of someone previously drowned, who will bring them bad luck. It is a barely credible device (and unfortunately not the only example of somewhat strained plotting), but it works well as a metaphor for a loneliness that gradually turns into independence and strength. For this is essentially a coming-of-age story with a sweet touch of romance, and Peg makes a heroine who is very easy to care about.
December 3, 2010
В· Judi Clark В· No Comments
Tags: 1910s, 20th-Century, Ontario, Second Story Press, Small Town, Time Period Fiction В· Posted in: Canada, Coming-of-Age, Debut Novel, Facing History, Family Matters
ami Sands Brodoff opens with an epigraph from Rabbi Avi Weiss: “The Torah is written ‘black fire on white fire’ . . . black fire refers to the letters of the Torah . . . the white refers to the spaces between the letters . . . they are the story, the song, the silence.” Exploring the story, singing the song, reflecting on the silence, these are the promises of this intimate yet ambitious novel, and they are both moving and beautiful. To say that Brodoff does not quite realize them is not to diminish the value of her search. The book is a sincere and obviously personal attempt to illuminate mysteries that may ultimately remain unknowable.