I had Lisa Moore’s February (longlisted for the Man Booker Prize) on my shelf for some time and I just picked it up quite randomly and I’m thrilled that I did.
The story is about a woman Helen, who loses her husband Cal, on a rig that sunk off the coast of Newfoundland on Valentine’s Day 1982, leaving her pregnant with 4 young children to raise. The story is essentially about grief and how it takes more than a lifetime to recover from the loss of love, real, honest, sexy, beautiful, heart wrenching love. You feel the shock of Helen’s loss even years after his death because she lives in him and with him in a real but unsentimental way. The beauty in this book, though, is in the writing.
There are a few scenes I love in particular. The pages that describe their wedding reception and hasty retreat to the local hotel reminds me of the wedding scene in the Deer Hunter. It felt real, honest and solid, its deceptive simplicity belying the complexity of two people bringing their lives together and all the nuances and feelings that knit the emotional fabric together.
Here is a sample, “…all of that was in the mirror on their wedding night, and – POW -Cal glanced at it, and the mirror speed with cracks that ran all the way to the elaborate curlicue mahogany frame, and it all fell to the carpet, fifty or so jagged pieces. Or the mirror buckled, or it bucked or it curled like a wave and splashed onto the carpet and froze there into hard jagged pieces. It happen so fast that Cal walked over the glass in his baste feet before he knew what he was doing, and he was not cut. It was not that the breaking mirror brought them bad luck. Helen didn’t believe that. But all the bad luck to come was in Cal’ s glance, and when he looked at the mirror the bad luck busted out.”
The second scene is when Helen reveals how she found out about Cal’s death but I’ll leave that for you to read to find out but I think I held my breath through all of those aching pages. The sadness goes beyond the mere fact of Cal’s death but the beauty of the language that delivers the story. Wow, the entire novel is sprinkled with magical language and sometimes surreal scenes. So thumbs up, give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.