Summary and book reviews of Consumption by Kevin Patterson

Consumption

by Kevin Patterson

Consumption
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2007, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2008, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Born on the tundra in the 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to a southern sanitarium. When she returns home six years later, she finds a radically different world, where the traditionally rootless tribes have uneasily congregated in small communities. And Victoria has become a stranger to her family and her culture.

In Rankin Inlet, a small town bordering the Arctic Ocean, the lives of the Inuit are gradually changing. The caribou and seals are no longer plentiful, and Western commerce has come to the community through a proposed diamond mine. Victoria Robertson wakes to a violent storm, her three children stirring in the dark. Her father, Emo, a legendary hunter who has come in off the land to work in a mine, checks to see if the family is all right. So does her Inuit lover, as Victoria’s British husband is away on business.

Thus the reader enters into the modern contradictions of the Arctic—walrus meat and convenience food, midnight sun and 24-hour satellite TV, dog teams and diamond mines—and into the heart of Victoria's internal exile. Born on the tundra in the 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to a southern sanitarium. When she returns home six years later, she finds a radically different world, where the traditionally rootless tribes have uneasily congregated in small communities. And Victoria has become a stranger to her family and her culture.

Chapter One

Storms are sex. They exist alongside and are indifferent to words and description and dissection. It had been blizzarding for five days and Victoria had no words to describe her restlessness. Motion everywhere, even the floors vibrated, and such motion was impossible to ignore, just as it was impossible not to notice the squeaking walls, the relentless shuddering of the wind. Robertson was in Yellowknife, and she and the kids had been stuck in this rattling house for almost a week, the tundra trying to get inside, snow drifting higher than the windows, and everyone inside the house longing to be out.

It was morning, again, and she was awake and so were the kids, but they had all stayed in bed and listened to the walls shake. Nine, or something like that, and still perfectly black. She had been dreaming that she was having sex with Robertson. She was glad she had woken up. Even the unreal picture of it had left her feeling alarmed—though that eased as the image of the...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. The narrator states “any conviction that technology inevitably demeans humans fails on contemplating what must have been the misery of that life,” referring to the Dorset Inuit, who lacked the sophisticated tools of the later Thule Inuit.How do you think contemporary Inuit, as they are portrayed in Consumption, feel about technology?

  2. In both the Sanitorium scene and in the depiction of Amanda’s friends the boys seem more displaced, more adrift than the girls. Are girls and women affected differently by rapid cultural change than men and boys? Do you find this portrayal convincing?

  3. Why was Penny so desperate to find Pauloosie after he went out on the land? Would he have made different decisions had he known her state?

  4. ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

At first glance the title of this exceptional first novel would seem to refer to the common name for tuberculosis, so named because the infection appears to consume people from within. However, as the novel progresses, consumption takes on a different meaning as we see the Inuit way of life and even the land they live on being consumed by "civilization" and the quest for profit.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (469 words).

Media Reviews

The Vancouver Sun

It's this thematic resonance, along with an understated humanism reminiscent of Anton Chekhov (incidentally, another physician), that makes Consumption a quietly devastating novel.

The Winnipeg Free Press

[T]he people in Kevin Patterson's gripping new novel of the North, Consumption, are defiantly human. They are complicated, passionate, troubled, confused and, in some cases, doomed -- by disease, by their own failings and by those of their loves ones and by economic and cultural forces beyond their control.

Kirkus Reviews

[A]n exquisitely-written, elegiac story, Consumption tells of Victoria, an Inuit woman who, sick with tuberculosis, had been exiled to a sanitarium as a youngster, only to return to find her home gone.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. [A] searingly visceral message about love, loss and dislocation.

The Vancouver Sun

It's this thematic resonance, along with an understated humanism reminiscent of Anton Chekhov (incidentally, another physician), that makes Consumption a quietly devastating novel.

The Globe and Mail

Some first novels simply tower above their contemporaries by the scope of their ambition and the power of their vision. Last year, it was Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road; earlier this year it was Madeleine Thien’s Certainty, and now it’s Kevin Patterson's Consumption.

Reader Reviews

E. Erickson

Reader Review of CONSUMPTION
This book presented an excellent picture of the changing life of the Inuit. The interstitial segments about health were both interesting and instructing.

Christine Clapp

Consumption
The writing is excellent - I can "feel" the cold of the Arctic and sense these people's way of life - the pull of more modern society - the clutching to old ways. I'm buying a copy for friends and family for Christmas this year.

Natalie

Refutes current propaganda
I love it that the author calls attention to the American diet as he tells the sad tale of the destruction and diseases of the Inuit tribe; you might think he is being politically correct. If you read more carefully, suddenly you realize he is ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Rankin Inlet & The Inuit

Rankin Inlet (picture) has a population of about 2,200. It is located on the 63rd parallel on the west shore of Hudson Bay (map) approximately 1,100 miles north of Winnipeg in the recently formed territory of Nunavut, which was officially separated from the Canadian Northwest Territories in April 1999.


A Short History of the Inuit
According to nunavut.com, the history of the Inuit begins in the southern Bering Sea (North Pacific) where, about 2 to 3,000 years ago, an ancient ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Consumption, try these:

  • The Remedy jacket

    The Remedy

    by Thomas Goetz

    Published 2015

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The riveting history of tuberculosis, the world's most lethal disease, the two men whose lives it tragically intertwined, and the birth of medical science.

  • Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures jacket

    Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures

    by Vincent Lam

    Published 2008

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures invites us into a world where the ordinary becomes the critical in a matter of seconds. A formidable debut, it is a profound and unforgettable depiction of today’s doctors, patients, and hospitals.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Holding Up the Universe
    Holding Up the Universe
    by Jennifer Niven
    Jennifer Niven's spectacular Holding Up the Universe has everything that I love about Young ...
  • Book Jacket: Coffin Road
    Coffin Road
    by Peter May
    From its richly atmospheric opening to its dramatic conclusion, Peter May's Coffin Road is a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guineveres
    The Guineveres
    by Sarah Domet
    It's a human need to know one's own identity, to belong to someone, to yearn for a place ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win All the Gallant Men

All The Gallant Men

The first memoir by a USS Arizona survivor, 75 years after Pearl Harbor.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Y Eyes P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.