Newfoundland book review: Galore by Michael Crummey

GaloreGalore by Michael Crummey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Galore combines history and folktales with a bit of magical realism to tell the fantastic and cryptic stories of several generations in a fictionalized Newfoundland outport called Paradise Deep. I loved how this book created a sense of tradition all around the eruptions of the weird. The characters were great. The dialogue was perfect. The writing was beautiful.

I am working on a genealogical/family history project tracing Newfoundland ancestors, and I felt like the specific issues I see there show up here in this novel, so maybe that made it more plausible for me: all the religious rivalry, the disowning, the shunning, the interwoven families. The melodrama of personal feuds in a small isolated village is intense in reality, and intense in this book. Crummey grounds everything in a detailed historical sense of place, so that the beliefs and actions of the characters are seen in their context of extreme deprivation and poverty.

For all of that, there’s a lot of humor, even when it’s dark humor, but I think that’s cultural too.

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