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The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud: A book review


I can’t imagine two first-time novels being more different than The Bone Cage and Johanna Skibsrud’s Giller Prize winner The Sentimentalists. The former relies heavily on the meat and potatoes of narrative writing while the latter delivers a slow evocative story with beautiful, lyrical passages that pause (sometimes endlessly) on details that don’t often advance the story.

Johanna Skibrud clearly lends her poetic talents to this thoughtful exploration of the impact of war and memory on family and the isolation it creates in generations that come long after the war is over.

Napoleon Haskell is an American Vietnam war veteran who leaves his North Dakota trailer home and moves to Casablanca, Ontario to live with Henry, the father of his best friend Owen, who died under mysterious circumstances during the war. His grown, daughter, whose own life is at a crossroads, goes to spend the summer with her father and Henry at the old house where she had spent many summers as a child. Continue reading

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