Book review: The Innocents — by Michael Crummey

(Doubleday Books)

Critically acclaimed Newfoundland author Michael Crummey’s new novel transports the reader to another time, another place. What begins as a story of survival — a sister and brother orphaned at young ages, odds already stacked against them — deepens into an exploration of perseverance, will, and family against a backdrop of unrelentingly harsh conditions, working and living. The Best family, with Evered and Ada now being the only two left, eked out a meager existence on the northern coastline of Newfoundland, living off the land, relying on their catch of fish to supply them with other necessities. The siblings have little choice but to continue the work, so they set to it. Taking place nearly 200 years ago, the story is circumscribed by the land and coast and sea and seasons, as well as the language and the pace of life; their only contact with other people is the biannual arrival of the supply ship. Naturally suited to resemble one another and grow together, closer still given the circumstances, the two children grow up with little guidance, only the remembered lessons and examples set by their parents before them. “Idleness is the root of all troubles.” “A body must bear what can’t be helped.”

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury.


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Bearskin, by James A. McLaughlin

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