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Summary and book reviews of Galore by Michael Crummey

Galore

A Novel

by Michael Crummey

Galore
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  • Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer Dawson Oakes

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About this Book

Book Summary

Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, Caribbean & Canada and the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award; Finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Book Award, and the Winterset Award.

When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.

With Paradise Deep, award-winning novelist Michael Crummey imagines a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to discern. Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.

Excerpt
Galore

He ended his time on the shore in a makeshift asylum cell, shut away with the profligate stink of fish that clung to him all his days. The Great White. St. Jude of the Lost Cause. Sea Orphan. He seemed more or less content there, gnawing at the walls with a nail. Mary Tryphena Devine brought him bread and dried capelin that he left to gather bluebottles and mould on the floor.

— If you aren’t going to eat, she said, at least have the decency to die.

Mary Tryphena was a child when she first laid eyes on the man, a lifetime past. End of April and the ice just gone from the bay. Most of the shore’s meagre population—the Irish and West Country English and the bushborns of uncertain provenance—were camped on the grey sand, waiting to butcher a whale that had beached itself in the shallows on the feast day of St. Mark. This during a time of scarcity when the ocean was barren and gardens went to rot in the relentless rain and each winter ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What do you think of the way Judah comes to Paradise Deep? How do you imagine he came to be inside a whale? Why does Devine's Widow choose to protect him and King-Me Sellers to suspect him?
  2. Judah gets his name because the people in town cannot correctly recall the name of the Biblical Jonah, who is swallowed by a whale. King-Me Sellers, Devine's Widow, Lazarus, and many other characters are also given odd names for peculiar reasons. What is the significance of names and naming in Galore.
  3. What did you think of the Mummers? What role do they play in advancing the plot? Are they harmless troublemakers or a genuine menace?
  4. Many of the stories in Galore are love ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

To begin reading Galore is to be invited into an epic novel of historical fiction that will compel you forward as you are overtaken by beautiful storytelling and fantastical events. For those who love to escape into their reading, this book will serve you well as it offers a true, unputdownable distraction from the reality of our more regular and everyday lives.   (Reviewed by Jennifer Dawson Oakes).

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Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

Ghosts, gangsters, mermen and a Christ-like healer who emerges from the belly of a beached whale are among the attractions in a boisterous, one-of-a-kind folk epic about feuding intermarried clans in Newfoundland...A lively, eccentric, mythmaking novel inspired by 200 years of Canadian history.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Mythic and gorgeous...Crummey lovingly carves out the privation and inner intricacies that mark his characters' lives with folkloric embellishments and the precision of the finest scrimshaw.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Newfoundland author Crummey’s award-winning third novel...affirms that our lives are always astonishing. It’s been justly compared to Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. It also calls to mind Graham Swift’s Waterland and Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, as well as William Faulkner’s epic Compson novels, and will appeal to readers who enjoyed those works.

The Globe and Mail

It’s an incredibly difficult task to make characters such as these work as human beings as well as elements of folklore, and Crummey does it with as much skill and grace as Gabriel Garcia Márquez does in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Quill & Quire

Michael Crummey's third novel injects an element of magic realism to convey an otherworldly quality ... a dense, intricate, and absorbing tale, rich in the nuances of human relationships.

Toronto Star

This economically told epic is masterful, written by a man with enough confidence to let his readers interpolate the meaning not only of certain words, but entire character arcs.

The Walrus

Galore is an absolute pleasure. In Crummey's capable hands, the setting breeds magic... A complex narrative that feels effortless, yet is woven so tightly that the magnificent artistry of its creator cannot be ignored.

ForeWord Reviews

In a sweeping story of several generations, Galore reveals the lives of the Irish and West Country English in rugged Newfoundland...Capturing the speech and temper of a primitive world, and communicating it perfectly, the writer delivers a masterpiece.

Author Blurb Wayne Johnston, author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
Michael Crummey’s Galore is a fabulous, fable-filled ball of yarns such as I’ve never encountered before. Tall, but plausible tales, odd, eccentric but weirdly familiar characters, dialogue straight out of the mouths of outport Newfoundlanders, historicized fiction, fictionalized history—it has, as its title suggests, a super-abundance of good things. This is art, but not art full of solemn, self-importance. Galore is artfully, and seriously, entertaining.

Author Blurb Jane Mendelsohn, author of I Was Amelia Earhart and American Music
Michael Crummey is a passionate storyteller. His world is intensely imagined and starkly real. Life leaps off the pages of Galore.

Reader Reviews
J

The circle of life
Would like to write this review without the usual adjectives but don't think it will be possible. What a treat, this read. I wanted to start over as soon as I finished. It has everything I like in a book - reality, magic, human tragedy, human ...   Read More

Dorian B.

A Wonderful Escape
As I read this book I felt like I was sitting with the author listening to him tell the story. The story is unusual, a break from the ordinary, with characters that are strange yet made believable through their very human needs. I recommend this ...   Read More

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The Mummers of Newfoundland

Two vivid and lively scenes in Galore reflect the occasion of mummers performing house-visits in the fictional outport community of Paradise Deep, Newfoundland. The practice of mumming (also known as mummering or janneying)  in Newfoundland originated with the early immigrants from Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Mumming is based within the traditions of folk drama and masquerading and often occurs on the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas (January 5th).   There are several different types of mumming: house visits, the parade of mummers and the mummers play.

In a typical house visit, mummers don disguises created from old clothes, rags and pillow cases to hide their identity, with men often ...

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