“A Long, Cold Lent”: I read David Adams Richards’s “Friends of Meager Fortune”

it’s CanCon for AmCon!:

I saved The Friends of Meager Fortune, the second novel I’ve read by Canadian Catholic author David Adams Richards, for the polar vortex. If anything can make Boston in January seem warm, it’s this relentlessly grim tale of the last days of man-and-horse lumbering, with horses crashing through the ice and bloodied hands freezing on the reins.

I’m conflicted about recommending the book. What is good in it is immensely powerful. The story of the doomed love of local failure/hero/failure again Owen Johnson and charity case/outcast Camellia Dupuis is suspenseful and deeply moving. Camellia is a luminous innocent who never becomes cloying. She’s gentle, in a profoundly ungentle world.

Even more moving, though, is the portrayal of the grim, death-shadowed men who work for Owen up on Good Friday Mountain, cutting down logs under shockingly dangerous and miserable conditions.

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About Eve Tushnet

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