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Category Archive for 'Cape Breton'

Alexander MacDonald, the narrator of this warm and ennobling family saga, comments to his brother that “Talking about history is not like living it…Some people have more choice than others.” And there, in a nutshell, is the essence of this tender generational novel. The MacDonalds are, in many ways, an “ordinary” family on Cape Breton, but author Alistair MacLeod creates a history for them so alive that the reader experiences it, too, feeling their sorrow and joy, admiring their pluck and independence, and celebrating their loyalty and bravery as they make the hard choices their lives require. They become heroes to us not because they have performed unusual feats but because they have achieved nobility within the collective memory of their own family. The book pulses with heart, an unforgettable novel by a writer who is so precise in his structure and word choice that in his entire career he has produced only this one novel and fourteen short stories published in two extraordinary collections. (At the top of my All-Time Favorites List.)

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