Ghosts, gangsters, mermen and a Christ-like healer who emerges from the belly of a beached whale are among the attractions in a boisterous, one-of-a-kind folk epic about feuding intermarried clans in Newfoundland.
Acclaimed Canadian bestseller Crummey (The Wreckage, 2005, etc.) lays on colorful language and antic humor in capturing the first settlements established in remote Newfoundland at the beginning of the 19th century. An unshakable enmity has existed between the English Protestant Sellers family and the Irish Catholic Devine family since the matriarch known as Devine's Widow turned down a marriage offer from King-me Sellers (a town tyrant named not for any regal qualities, but his fondness for checkers). Branded a witch, she has made the most of her supposed supernatural powers in antagonizing him and his clan over the years. When the whale coughs up the otherworldly Judah (named by the coastal dwellers out of confusion with Jonah), life gets even more oddly eventful for all concerned. Though pale, foul-smelling and speechless, he has a positive effect on everyone whose path he crosses. This novel loses much of its offbeat charm when Crummey turns to the contentious effects of union organizing during World War I; in doing so, he drains the book of its laughter and bawdy charm. But the singular world he creates is special. For American readers, the peculiarities of Newfoundland (aka "The Rock"), which even many Canadians see as a strange and exotic place, will seem magical.
A lively, eccentric, mythmaking novel inspired by 200 years of Canadian history.