Annie Proulx: The Shipping News (July 2021)

This book, which was awarded The Pulitzer Prize, is a story of a man’s transformation of identity and self acceptance.

The theme is of family and the story follows the main protagonist, Quoyle, and his transition from his perception of being a failure, of low self esteem and being “down trodden” to a person of self worth, confidence and achieving success in both his personal and his public life.

The novel is mainly set in Newfoundland and the characters and descriptive prose are intense , fascinating and atmospheric. The author includes dark humour together with a sensitive, eloquent and absorbing depiction of the country and inhabitants of Newfoundland. There are stories of joy, unhappiness, forgiveness and enlightenment. The great tension between the past and the present serve as a backdrop to the events in this book, and it is interesting in the comparisons of the different characters and the effect they have in Quoyle’s evolution and the power of love both for Quoyle and people in general.

The group felt that the first quarter of the book was not as enticing as the rest of it but were unanimous in their praise and would recommend it .

Margaret Cunningham

1st August 2021