Friday, January 2, 2009

Review of L. G. Salverson's The Dark Weaver

The 1937 winner of the Governor General's Award for fiction is:

The Dark Weaver by L.G. Salverson

The Dark Weaver is an epic novel that tells the story of a group of immigrants from Europe to Canada and their children. The novel touches on many themes in an elaborately woven story including generational differences, the building of Canada, immigration, the development of the West, tensiosn between European tradition and North American newness, and industrialisation. The book opens in the mid-nineteenth century and ends during the First World War.

It is a long and well-plotted story with well-developed characters. Salverson excels at communicating the emotions of her characters and provides very detailed descriptions. In this sense, stylistically, the novel is more akin to the Victorian era and the Interwar period.

In a sense, this novel is too big to simply summarize, but sufficed to say, there is an engaging alaborate story. It would be trite to call it the Canadian War and Peace, but while reading it, Tolstoy's masterpiece kept popping into my haed.

The most striking part of the novel is its conclusion. Without giving too much away, the destructive theme of the end is very interesting. Does it represent the all-consuming annihilation of modern, total war? Does it represent that Canada and North America are inexorably anchored to Europe? In a sense, the end seems to undercut the theme of a new continent and new country that the vast majority of the novel builds to. Is the ending a warning? Or pessimism?

Salverson is clearly a talented author and The Dark Weaver provides an engaging story with excellent characters and a conclusion that leaves the reader questioning everything. Needless to add, I highly recommend it.

No comments: