I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for the understated and rather wonderful The Innocents by Michael Crummey. Thank you to Anne Cater and No Exit Press for giving me the opportunity to read and review this beautiful book.
About the book:
Newfoundland culture is outport culture. My parents were both born and raised in outports. Everybody in Buchans was from an outport. I always say that I didn’t live in an outport, but the outports made me who I am. To try and understand this place, I think, you have to write about outport culture… MICHAEL CRUMMEY
In centuries past, a brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated outport cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity.
Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family’s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to help them survive.
Muddling through the severe round of the seasons, through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them. But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be tested.
INSPIRED BY A STORY MICHAEL CRUMMEY FOUND IN LOCAL ARCHIVES ABOUT AN ORPHANED BROTHER AND SISTER IN 18TH CENTURY CANADA – THE SISTER WAS PREGNANT, HER BROTHER ASSUMED TO BE THE FATHER – THE INNOCENTS IS AN UNFLINCHING EXPLORATION OF THE BOND BETWEEN SIBLINGS.
I was really interested in telling the story of these two children who are completely sheltered from the outside world and sheltered from their own natures… Part of the reason their story stayed with me was… because I just could not imagine how lonely it must have been for them to deal with that particular part of their own experience… How they would try to make sense of things they have no words for. They don’t have a word for anything that happens between them as they grow older. As they get older, they become more of a mystery to themselves.
About the author:
MICHAEL CRUMMEY was born in Buchans, a mining town in the interior of Newfoundland, growing up there and in western Labrador. After thirteen years in self-imposed exile in Ontario, he moved home to Newfoundland in 2000. He is the author of five books of poetry, a book of short stories, and four other celebrated novels, including the Giller prize-nominated River Thieves. He lives in St. John’s.
There is something really rather special about The Innocents by Michael Crummey. Completely different to anything I’ve ever read before, I’m so pleased I was invited to share my review as part of the blog tour as I don’t think I would ever have picked it up otherwise. It isn’t a fast paced read by any means, instead it gently sweeps you along with the beautiful writing and unusual turns of phrase.
It tells the story of Ada and Evered, a brother and sister living an isolated existence in a Newfoundland outport cove after the tragic and untimely deaths of their parents and baby sister. Left to cope alone, the brother and sister are forced to grow up with only the barest notion of the outside world. They have nothing but the family’s boat and the small amount of knowledge passed on to them by their mother and father.
As the years pass and Ada and Evered grow and change, so does their relationship. They are fiercely loyal to one another, but that loyalty is stretched to the limit as they begin to move forward into adolescence, trying to cope with all the changes and confusion that goes along with leaving the innocence of childhood behind.
The Innocents is far from an easy read, taking some dark and harrowing turns at times, but there is no doubt that this is a thought provoking book that will draw you into the isolated world of Ada and Evered and their fight for survival. The cold and beautiful landscape next to the unforgiving sea is described in intricate detail, making you feel as though you were there.
Michael Crummey has created a world unlike any I’ve ever known before, with Ada and Evered characters you can’t help but find yourself fascinated by as you almost become a spectator to the strange and unusual lives they are living. The writing is understated in its beauty, the story somehow burrowing beneath your skin until you feel almost red raw with emotion as you follow the brother and sister on their journey.
The Innocents may not be for everyone, but I thought it was a compelling and truly wonderful read. Maybe a little odd at times, but I liked that about it. A beautifully written book that I would highly recommend.
The Innocents by Michael Crummey is available to pre-order now: Amazon UK
Out August 20th 2020
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