The Shipping News (E. Annie Proulx)

 

We have now returned to school and are back into the swing of things which means more writing for me!  At the end of my last entry, I wrote that I was reading The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, and I am happy to say that I loved it!  I had watched the excellent film adaptation years ago and, having remembered enjoying that immensely, I decided to read the novel this summer.  The book is different in style from many novels and I found it a little unusual to begin with:  the sentences are very short but so descriptive that they are far more effective for the nature of this story. Each word is significant and each sentence conveys the difficulties that Quoyle and the extensive cast of characters face in their daily lives.

Early on we learn that Quoyle has been told that he’s no good at anything and he certainly seems to have grown into that way of thinking of himself.  He cannot believe it when something good happens to him, when he falls in love, he even accepts things when his wife rejects him for a host of casual relationships.  It is when tragedy strikes that he comes into contact with an aunt he hasn’t known previously, and the events that quickly unfold take him and his daughter, Bunny, to a new future, in Newfoundland, hundreds of miles north from New York State where the story begins.  This is when his life takes a turn for the better as the aunt takes him back to where his family came from and a completely new future is on his horizon.  Quoyle experiences friendships and people caring for him in a way that has been totally alien to him until now and he and his family are welcomed into the town.  He appears to be permanently surprised by this.  The description of  Newfoundland is so expertly written that the reader gets a real sense of place and we are touched by both the cruelty and the kindness of human nature.

I watched the film again last night and did enjoy it again but felt it a shame that some of the central characters crucial to Quoyle’s discovery that his life is worthwhile, valuable and meaningful are omitted.  The scenery and cinematography convey the sense of remoteness of the place, and how its inhabitants have come to care for one another through facing adversities and the harshness of the climate.  The acting was superb and each actor well-chosen for their particular role.

 

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Author: Berkhamsted School Library

Main aims for Berkhamsted School Library • to provide a central resource for the whole school curriculum • to encourage an ethos of enquiry and discovery • to assist pupils in becoming confident and independent learners • to develop research and information skills throughout the school • to offer resources which enrich cultural values and experiences for pupils, as well as have a role in their recreational life and promote reading for pleasure as a lifelong activity

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