Sunday, August 8, 2010

Review of "We Keep a Light"

The next book I am reviewing is "We Keep a Light" by Evelyn M. Richardson. I skipped "The War: Fourth Year" as it is the 4th volume in a series (which I would eventually like to read), so I hope to come back to it at a later point. The fiction winner for 1945, "Two Solitudes" by Hugh MacLennan is a Canadian classic, which for once, I have already read. I highly recommend it as both an excellent novel and as an important piece of Canadian culture. References to "two solitudes" are still very common in contemporary commentary.

"We Keep a Light" was one of two nonfiction winners in 1945. The book depicts family life at a small island lighthouse in Nova Scotia. For those interested in such a subject, "We Keep a Light" is ideal. However, for the general reader, I think that this book is wanting. First off, Richardson's perspective is very family-focused. She spends a lot of time talking about her children and husband and she includes a plethora of minute (and I would add inane and irrelevant) details. Secondly, there is no clear structure. While the book is roughly chronological, Richardson often goes back and forth in time, which can be disorienting.

One gets the impression with this book that it is simply a very proud mother extolling her family's superiority by surviving and thriving in a difficult situation.

Some may find such a work appealing, but I did not.

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