Saturday, April 30, 2011

Galore by Michael Crummey ~ Part II

I reviewed Galore earlier this week prior to discussing the book with some other bloggers at Devourer of Books blog. (My review). In that post, I said I would be back to let you know what the Book Club readers thought of Galore, so here I am! Our entire discussion is available at Book Club discussion. As Jen said at the beginning of our discussion, this post is likely to contain *spoilers*!
(This post has been delayed due to problems with Blogger - ugh! My fingers are crossed all goes well today!)

There are parts of Galore I liked but, in general, I didn't care much for the book. In our Book Club discussion, my opinion was definitely the minority. They all thought Galore was great! I wish I'd spoken with some of them while I was reading Galore because their perspective on the book was different than mine and I think I would have approached the story in a different way.

The other bloggers who participated in the Book Club discussion I list below with a link to their review of Galore if they posted one:
Jen of Devourer of Books (review)
Nicole of Linus' Blanket (review)
Jenn of
Picky Girl (review)
Cassandra of
Indie Reader Houston
Wendy of Caribousmom
Martha of Hey, I Want to Read That

I was the most disappointed with Galore because Crummey didn't provide much insight into any of the characters, including the character who's in the book from beginning to end, Mary Tryphena. There's an enormous number of characters in Galore. Several come from the two main families on the Newfoundland island of Paradise Deep, the Sellers and the Devines. Crummey provides family trees for these families in the very beginning of the book to help readers keep track of some of the characters. I had so many questions about the motivations, thoughts, feelings and ideas of many of the characters and came up frustrated when very few were provided.

Nicole had a different and really interesting point of view:
" It’s funny because I can’t say that I didn’t wonder some of those things and want some of those answers, because I did. But it was almost like it was less important to me because it almost seemed to be the way their world worked. They seemed to be very accepting of either simple or no explanations for what they had to endure. I think I just couldn’t want more or expect much more of then than they could for themselves, and yet they still really interested me."

Several of the others felt similarly and Jenn added
" I also think Crummey may not have wanted to focus the narrative too strongly on any one character, and to me, that made it seem more of a sociological exploration of this place and time than anything else."

And Jessica said, "I felt like the scope of the story was so large and there were so many characters involved that I was pretty impressed with the depth of the characters that we did get."

When Galore begins, there isn't a great number of people living on the island of Paradise Deep. The people on the island don't have any really formal religion, no house of worship and the one priest, Father Phelan, a very sorry excuse for a priest, divides his time between Paradise Deep and several other small enclaves miles away. As the novel progresses, the island grows in size as people are attracted by the availability of fish and some other industries and families grow. We see how things change on the island as the years pass and people come and go depending on any number of things. By the end of the book, Paradise Deep is a much different place in some ways than it was on page one and in some ways it's much the same.

Nicole commented:

"The world was so different than anything I had previously read and there were so many people that I was surprised that it held my attention the way it did. It was so compelling. Large casts of characters tend to be rather hit or miss, with some more interesting than others, but here I was fascinated with everyone, so I didn’t have those moments where I wasn’t engaged."
This viewpoint was echoed by several of the others.

There's an atmosphere of mystery surrounding this island and references to folk beliefs and elements pop up frequently. The island inhabitants rely on folklore and fables when met with problems, health crisis, medical issues, questions of religion and law etc. As the years pass, and things slowly modernize while people with different perspectives and ideas come to the island and more formal religion is established, some of the folk beliefs die out with new generations. The fables and folk beliefs are never completely gone, though. Jessica commented that one of the characters in the second part of the novel remarked "Newfoundland is too fantastical to believe in when he was in the states" and that's the general impression I think Crummey wanted his readers to have of Paradise Deep and the islanders.

It seems Crummey may have been influenced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez whom he quotes before the story begins. It's been many years since I read Marquez's work. Jen wrote that Galore is similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and she links to the story in her review. I haven't had a chance to read it yet but I plan to. A few reviews I read of Galore remark on its similarity to Marquez's book One Hundred Years of Solitude. Cassandra says, too that there is a similarity to One Hundred Years of Solitude, her favorite book and that "Galore is a very respectful homage to the type of tale that Garcia Marquez was trying to tell without being an imitation of it".

Jenn also commented that she was reminded of Isabel Allende's The House of Spirits when reading Galore. Nicole commented, "I agree with Jenn about The House of Spirits", and called it a fabulous book. .I have read a couple of Allende's book but, unfortunately not this one.

Some of the Book Club readers had issues with Crummey's writing. Jessica felt it wasn't smooth and Crummey's used grammar in a different way. She had a problem with sentences that weren't complete in that they lacked verbs or were clauses that seemed like they should have been attached to real sentences. Jen and commented that Crummey's use of dashed instead of quotation marks and other punctuation was something they had to get used to. Problems with how Galore is written didn't impact anyone's reading to any great extent.
As Jessica said
"I do think it’s a testament to the story and Crummey’s overall writing, however, that even though this detail drove me nuts sometimes, I still loved the story and was sucked into it most of the time."

One part of the novel we all agreed about is the ending. It's fascinating. Crummey did a terrific job with the ending of Galore, leaving it open to a little bit of interpretation but in a very interesting, riveting manner.


  1. I didn't read the full review for fear of spoilers, but will be back to check it out when I am done, which will probably be sometime soon!

  2. Here's a link to my review. I posted it in March, on the publication date, so it was a bit hard to find.