From Goodreads: When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.
With Paradise Deep, award-winning novelist Michael Crummey imagines a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to discern. Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.
This was an odd book. This was a very odd book. This is the kind of book where you wish you knew the author so you could call him and say “Dude, what the ……”. There were times I really liked this book, there were times I really loved this book, and times when I wanted to chuck it across the room while cursing it.
I’m going to start with a few of the things that made me a little crazy. There was a complete lack of quotation marks. I’m not sure what Crummey was trying to say, if anything, but it did take me a bit to get into the rhythm of not having quotes when characters spoke. Then there’s the fact that until well into the second half of this book I had no idea when it was taking place. And if it wasn’t for the family tree at the front of the book I don’t know if I would have been able to keep all the characters straight and let me tell you there were a lot of characters.
Now, the things I really liked and even loved about this book. It always kept me guessing. I had no idea where is was going and I loved being along for the ride. We follow the people of Paradise Deep and the Gut for more than 100 years. I love books where, really, the location is the star-the story. Oddly enough a Fannie Flagg book comes to mind when I think of this. Standing in the Rainbow is another book that while following members of the same family were see the progression of a town over time and how much things change but also how things stay the same. But clear warning this is nothing like Fannie Flagg. The language is rough and course like the people of the towns. Their lives are graphic and sometimes crude.Their actions are sometime shocking.
There’s such an odd (I use that word a lot about this book) beauty about this book. There were times I felt like I was in the middle of a foreign movie. Where I didn’t understand exactly what was happening but I could tell what was going on. I don’t know if that made any sense but like I said this book had me work for it. And don’t even get me started on the ending. I’ve changed my mind at least six times on what I think happened.
I had a hard time, at times, getting through this and found myself going back a few pages to try to get a grasp of what was going on and it reminded me of something. I while back when Oprah had just started her book club she had Toni Morrison on discussing her book Paradise. And Oprah had mentioned that she had to keep going back over sections to understand what was happening and Toni Morrison said in that great voice of hers (and if you haven’t heard her speak you should. I wonder if she does the reading on any of her audio books, oh-sorry, I digress) anyway she says “My dear, that’s why the call it reading.”
I’ve always loved that quote. You see I’m a gal who can enjoy an easy read. Give me a cozy mystery or a fluffy romance and I can be happy as pie. But when you really get to read, get in there and work for it, well-that’s something special. And this book was something special.