An intricate family sage and a love story spanning two centuries, Michael Crummey’s novel is a portrait of the improbably medieval world of rural Newfoundland, where the line between the real and the otherworldly is impossible to distinguish. A mute and naked stranger arrives in Paradise Deep in the belly of a whale. A widow’s family is haunted by the curse she placed on the local merchant as a young woman. A defrocked priest takes extraordinary measures to exorcise a murderer’s ghost. A charismatic political reformer with a devastating secret sets out to save the country from itself.
Another Adelaide Festival Writers Week inspired read. I have had a 100% satisfaction strike rate with those books that I chose to read after listening to the authors. This is one I had been itching to read since I bought it. I loved listening to Crummey read the first part of the book in March this year, his voice was lilting and totally captivated me. I felt that if I read his book it would be wonderful to have his voice reading it to me in my mind. That worked for a little while, but sadly my imagination wasn’t able to maintain it.
The story is largely set in the very remote village of Paradise Deep in Newfoundland. The descriptions of this village and the surrounds are full of amazing rich description, I felt it took on a character in itself within which everything else revolved around.
From the opening moments of the book when Judah is pulled from the beached whale I was swept away. This is a tale that was at once real and full of the normal worldly concerns of mere mortals and competing with this a strong feeling of magic and mystique that I couldn’t move from.
The real power of this book is the relationships between the villagers, religion, the family sagas that continue over generations and the capacity for humans to carry their grudges and resentments to the detriment of those they love. This book is wonderful; it is funny and tragic all at once. Crummey has woven such a clever tale that I would strongly recommend as a must read.