*Disclaimer: this post was originally written 3 weeks ago but for some reason I saved it as a draft rather than publishing and forgot about it until now- errr, oops*
I bet you thought I’d forgotten about May’s Re-Read, after being so early with all the others…well, I didn’t. But truth be told, it did take me longer than expected to get through it, not because of the book itself (which is brilliant by the way) but just because as soon as I picked it up and opened the cover life got craaaaazy, and with the imminent arrival, and then ACTUAL arrival of our little foster baby aka Squishlet I found that I suddenly had very little time for anything and when I did I wanted to use it for SLEEP!
But, these last few evenings I have read a chapter or two each night after she’s fallen asleep (although the first evening I tried it, Chris found me asleep on the sofa with the book open on my chest, haha!) and today I finally finished it.
I have to say, I wish I’d been able to guzzle it all in one go, or at least 2-3 sittings maximum, like I did the first time I read it, as there’s so much suspense and intrigue (especially towards the end) that it’s a book that lends itself really well to staying up past your bedtime to finish it, but even so, despite having to be a bit more stop/start this time and reading it in more bitesize chunks, I still really loved it.
The story takes place in Canada in 1867, and begins with the death- murder in fact- of a man named Laurent Jammet and the discovery of his body by a woman named Mrs Ross (whose first name is never used). It isn’t really a murder mystery/whodunnit style book though- or rather, it is but it is ALSO the story of the people living in the isolated settlement where the murder takes place and of the events that unfold after it.
The book has some really vivid and beautiful descriptions of the landscape and wilderness but it also vividly depicts people in all their wonderful messy human-ness, and the two things combined really took my breath away when I first read it and again this time.
I think the only difference reading it for a second time, almost a decade later, is a new found appreciation for the sense of loss and sadness I felt after finishing it. Not that the story had changed in any way or somehow become more sad than it was, just that a. it’s been a while (I am guesstimating it was around 8-9 years ago I first bought it) and b. I have changed. So things I thought of as perhaps sad or poignant then I maybe find even more heartbreaking to read about now.
(In other words, yes I am becoming an emotional wreck in my old age!)
Like all my other Re-Reads this year, I obviously think you should all go read it if you haven’t already. It actually won the Costa Book of The Year Award in 2006 and the author Stef Penney was particularly praised for how well she depicted the area at that time, despite having never set foot there due to suffering from agorophobia. I’ve never been to Canada (and certainly not in that time period 😉 ) so couldn’t say how realistic the picture she paints with her words is, but I will say that I do now FEEL as though I’ve been to Canada in 1867 and that’s what counts, to me anyway.
June’s book is The House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe, which I planned to start reading straight away but sort of got distracted by…errr…Twilight (shhhh!) So I’ll be back with another book related post in a few weeks- and possibly some fostering/general life related rants before then 😉