Wednesday, 14 September 2011

February by Lisa Moore

February by Lisa Moore
First published by House of Anansi/Groundwood Books in 2009 (this edition by Chatto & Windus in 2010)

Description (from Goodreads)
In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's night storm. In the early hours of the next morning, all 84 men aboard died. Helen O'Mara is one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns. This title shows us the oil rig go down and Helen emerging from her grief to greet a new life.

My thoughts
Before I saw February in the pile of books my Grandma had put together for me, I hadn't seen or heard of it before. The cover is not what you might call eye-catching, but because it was in the pile, I decided to read the description on the back cover, where I realised that the cover is pretty irrelevant to the story; it doesn't even give an inkling of what it's about. (Which is really a pity, because the book is worth reading)

The book follows Helen, the widow of Cal, a man who was working on the oil rig Ocean Ranger on the night that everything went wrong and 84 men died. Apparently, the Ocean Ranger accident was a real event, something which I did not know about before I read the book. While I was reading the story, I thought it was an event that was made up to be used as a backdrop for the novel, but when I finished the book and got round to reading the acknowledgements (something which I do, even though I think most people tend not to), I found out that it was a real event. (You can find out more about it HERE.)

Throughout the story, we go back and forth, to different times in the past and in the present, which allows us to understand Helen's grief, despite the fact that not everything is told in chronological order. The book doesn't solely focus on Helen's grief and her journey in dealing with it. It also follows Helen and Cal's children's lives (though not necessarily directly), so as to show the impact that particular accident had upon their lives; John, who was the eldest and the only boy, Cathy and Lulu, the two middle girls, and Gabrielle, who was born after her father died. And there is one important subplot, which is supposed to be the trigger for the telling of the story and though which the main characters come to deal with their grief.

Despite the fact that it deals quite a bit with grief  and dealing (over a rather large period of time), this book is not too heavy to read. The writing is very good and the way in which it is written (with all the jumps in time) just helped pull me into the story and made me want to read on and on so that I could find out what was going to happen next. The characters were easy to relate to and understand and faced real problems in real ways. Definitely a book worth reading.

Rating: 8/10

Lisa Moore is a Canadian author. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and has also studied at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. She has written two collections of stories, Degrees of Nakedness and Open, as well as a novel, Alligator. She has also written for tv, radio, magazines and newspapers.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

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