Near the end of What Is Left the Daughter,
the narrator, Wyatt Hillyer, reflects, "I never believed in the phrase 'it all comes back to me now,' because not all of anything that happened in the past comes back whole cloth." The attempt to reconstruct, understand, and, to a large extent, rationalize the past forms the fascinating subtext of Wyatt's narrative in Norman's tightly crafted novel of love, loss, and wartime.
Like many of Norman's other novels, the protagonist's story begins with a tragedy, when seventeen-year-old Wyatt is orphaned in dramatic fashion in 1941. Forced to start over in the wake of this infamous incident, the young man travels to the small Nova Scotia town of Middle Economy, where his aunt Constance and uncle Donald live. There Uncle Donald teaches Wyatt the trade of building toboggans while Wyatt gradually becomes part of small...
Beyond the Book
Although Donald's growing suspicions about Hans Mohring and other Europeans cross the line into obsession, some American readers may be surprised to learn just how active German U-boats were in Canadian waters during World War II. (U-boat is the anglicized version of unterseeboot
, meaning undersea boat, i.e. a submarine).
During 1942, the German military mounted a series of strategic attacks on individual ships in the waters off the coast of Canada. These submarine attacks were intended to break up the formation of convoys and to disrupt the potential of North American naval activity in European waters. Because Canada had already committed a large proportion of their forces to fight overseas and their warships to escort convoys, they didn't have many...