From the award-winning, bestselling author of Galore comes another unforgettable novel. By turns darkly comic and heartbreakingly sad, Sweetland is a deeply suspenseful story about one man's struggles against the forces of nature and the ruins of memory.
For twelve generations, when the fish were plentiful and when they all-but disappeared, the inhabitants of this remote island in Newfoundland have lived and died together. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, they are facing resettlement, and each has been offered a generous compensation package to leave. But the money is offered with a proviso: everyone has to go; the government won't be responsible for one crazy coot who chooses to stay alone on an island.
That coot is Moses Sweetland. Motivated in part by a sense of history and belonging, haunted by memories of the short and lonely time he spent away from his home as a younger man, and concerned that his somewhat eccentric great-nephew will wilt on the mainland, Moses refuses to leave. But in the face of determined, sometimes violent, opposition from his family and his friends, Sweetland is eventually swayed to sign on to the government's plan. Then a tragic accident prompts him to fake his own death and stay on the deserted island. As he manages a desperately diminishing food supply, and battles against the ravages of weather, Sweetland finds himself in the company of the vibrant ghosts of the former islanders, whose porch lights still seem to turn on at night.
Sweetland is both a place a small island off Newfoundland and a person Moses Sweetland and both have seen better times. The provincial government is offering resettlement money to Sweetland residents, but only if everyone agrees to leave. Moses Sweetland is 69 years old and has been disfigured by an industrial accident. When the story opens, he is the only person aside from the man considered the island idiot who opposes the government's proposition. He's under plenty of pressure to accept, but the island named for his ancestors, where he takes his great-nephew rabbit hunting and hands down family legends, is the only place Moses can imagine living. Crummey, whose last book, Galore, won the Commonwealth Prize, does both man and place justice: Moses is a memorably strong-willed character, whose manner of thinking and speaking are dying out. The novel also conveys the way that a sense of place is the product of relationships among the living, with the dead, and, in Moses's case, arising from intimate connections to land and sea. At the end of the story, Moses remains alone on the island, his supplies dwindling, beset by injury, cold, and memories the question isn't what will happen, but how. Having nearly trapped himself in a narrative corner, Crummey writes himself out of it, concluding the book in a way that recalls Aristotle's maxim from the Poetics: the best endings find a way to be both surprising and inevitable.
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Lovely book beautifully written. characters real, funny, heartbreaking. setting magical
As a sense of place, that informs who a person is……there is no other like Newfoundland. Ghosts of an everyday, intense, demanding way of life, a man who can’t leave, a place that doesn’t want to be forgotten. A read like pulling the petals off a rose.Magic!