Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I've read a spate of books lately about two brothers where one brother is a nice guy and the other is bad news. Consequently, this book's plot seemed tired, familiar, and predictable. In some ways it reminded me of the movie Legends of the Fall, because there's a woman in the middle. My chief complaint, in fact, is about the women in this novel. Why do women authors portray their women characters as gullible and easily seduced by handsome, charismatic, unscrupulous men? Why are the men in this novel the only ones who see Jake for what he is—a cowardly liar and reprobate? His salt-of-the-earth brother Arthur is a farmer with a beautiful wife, Laura. While they were growing up, Arthur dealt Jake a severe blow when, for once, Jake wasn't crying wolf. Guilt causes Arthur to cut Jake a little too much slack after that, but not nearly as much as Arthur's mother does. Ian is the teenage son of the town doctor (in northern Ontario), who comes to work for Arthur so that he can be near Laura. I found Ian's story to be much more captivating than Arthur and Jake's. He struggles with choosing a career path, but that issue also resolves itself in predictable fashion. Ian's fishing buddy Pete is conflicted by his heritage, with one foot in the white man's land and one in the land of his native people, and his conflict also has a predictable outcome. Despite the fact that I found the book sort of hollow, it wasn't a chore to read by any means. I had to keep bracing myself, though, for Jake's next thoughtless or cruel move, and that's just not particularly fun.

No comments: