Saturday, November 08, 2008

GOOD TO A FAULT by Marina Endicott (2008) Broadview Press

This first novel from a new small Canadian press made it to the short-list (named by Margaret Atwood, Bob Rae and Colm Toibin) for this year's Giller Prize. It is a gem. Even if it isn't the prize-winner on November 11th, go out and get yourself a copy.

Clara Purdy is a 40-something insurance adjuster who in a moment of distraction causes a car crash with incredible personal fallout. The Gage family, whose innocent lives Clara has accidentally interrupted, was on its way to build a new life in the relatively prosperous working class town Fort McMurray, living out of their delapitated Dodge Dart along the way. None of them is horribly injured, but the Mom, Lorraine, is diagnosed with cancer. Unable to cope with this shocking reality, her husband Clayton flees, leaving Clara to accommodate each of them into her single life.

The kindness of strangers and prairie warm-heartedness combine to create stability for Lorraine's young family as she is faced with chemo, radiation and eventually a bone-marrow transplant. Clara welcomes the new challenge in her life in caring for Dolly, Trevor and Pearce and enlists the help of her neighbour and her cousins and even her pastor, Paul Tippett to do so. Recovering from her own divorce and lack of purpose, Clara finds real meaning in her life, but not before she is faced with emotional loss of her own.

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