Lesley Choyce comes to the blog with a contemporary literary fiction story of one man revisiting and redefining his life in
Broken Man on a Halifax Pier
Told in first person perspective of Charles, a now fifty-five year old man, feeling as if he has wasted his life and is simply wandering in Halifax, contemplating his next move. He’s in the midst of a massive pity-party, unemployed and now penniless, and isn’t sure where things went so horribly wrong. In the midst of it all, he meets Ramona: a woman who has had some ‘limited’ success in acting, but is also mostly trying to find amusement and where she should go next. Charlies intrigues her – perhaps she has a soft spot for broken and lost things, and you can’t get much lower than Charles at the moment – penniless and jobless, with no real fixed plan to remedy his situation.
But, Charles has a niggling idea – what if he was to return to the coastal fishing village he left after high school, and perhaps see if answers he is seeking to where it all went wrong are there. He asks Ramona to drive him, and the journey brings them closer as it answers more questions and brings up more problems and history for Charles. The two are surprisingly similar: unable to form and keep lasting relationships, both able to stand up after repeated times being knocked down, both are lonely and have found lives full of great losses: their common ground despite being in rather different places growing up also bring a sort of bond between them.
The narrative voice of Charles doesn’t allow readers to get too embroiled in the thoughts and feelings of Ramona – perhaps being filtered through Charles has some sort of muting effect – but the prose is lovely and the loneliness and isolation that both feel and deal with differently is palpable. From little moments of grief and hope, intermixed with memories, self-recrimination and insecurity – the story feels very much like a reader’s second hand view of a life revisited, allowing only time and revisited memories to affect the present. Cleverly presented with only Charles’ viewpoint, both people and the scenery is depicted with varying levels of care and interest, much seeming to correlate to Charles and his own emotional state at the time. Unlike anything else I’ve read in a ‘similar’ sort of vein, the story is one that is hard to put down, and provides plenty of imagery and food for thought.
Title: Broken Man on a Halifax Pier
Author: Lesley Choyce
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction, Humor elements, Romantic Elements, Second Chance, Setting: Canada, Small Town
Published by: Dundurn Press
Published on: 5 November, 2019
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
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A tale of one man’s shipwrecked life and an unlikely crew of rescuers.
Fifty-five-year-old Charles Howard has lost his long-time journalism job and has been swindled out of his life savings. Standing by the edge of Halifax Harbour on a foggy morning, contemplating his dismal future, his ritual of self-pity is interrupted with the appearance of the mysterious and beguiling Ramona Danforth. And so begins a most interesting relationship.
On a whim, Charles asks Ramona to drive him to his childhood home, Stewart Harbour, a fishing village populated by rugged individualists far down Nova Scotia’s remote Eastern Shore. Charles left the Harbour immediately after graduating from high school and never looked back. And now that he's returned, the past starts catching up with him in ways he could never have imagined.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.