Emma Hooper comes to the blog today with a story of a disappearing life and the village around it, narrated by Nicole Power, please read on for my review of
Our Homesick Songs
If you are familiar with the Eastern Provinces of Canada, you may have passing familiarity with Newfoundland and Labrador, but it is Newfoundland, or The Rock, that matters to this story of a disappearing life, the yearnings for home and the ways people carry their past and their homes with them in the face of overwhelming odds. A story told in past and present, the Connor family comes from Big Running, a fishing village going through a slow and painful death: with Aidan and Martha alternating their time between Big Running and Alberta where they earn money to support their children Cora and Finn. A moratorium on cod was set by the government to replenish stock, but it seems that the fish just upped stakes and left, leaving most of the fishing families without support or work, and forcing many to leave the island for work. But Cora and Finn, with the support and help of their parents in the face of these overwhelming odds are staying put, everyone with their own oar in the water as they struggle to maintain the life and the family that was so desired.
It would be a mistake to think that the lyricism of the story, the often spare prose is pointedly accurate, giving each who encounters this book a moment to remember – for this story is more about the driving forces of hope and desperation in the face of difficulty and change as it is about the four characters and how they came to be who they are, and their means of ‘maintaining’ their home in their heart. And in the heart is where these moments must reside, as we see the paths of Aidan and Martha and how they differ from and have influences Cora and Finn, and the remarkable discoveries that each makes along the way to finding their sense of home within themselves. Full of magic and wonder, a touch of the music of the sea, and just enough sense of that ‘being home’ feeling that never quite leaves even when you are far from the place you call your heart’s home, the book is intriguing and absorbing.
Narration for this book is provided by Nicole Power, and provides that sense of patience that this story required: without great breaks in tone and delivery to present each individual or the many moments that build the setting and landscape, she allows the purity of the often spare prose to stand solidly on their own, subtle switches for more lyrical passages gave a musical lilt to the story, not quite reminiscent of more traditional songs I’ve heard from Newfoundland, but providing a framework that feels musical and flows in ways unexpected. Something entirely different to what I expected, and while not for everyone, this is a story that, when allowed to attach itself to that part of you that longs for simpler times and childhood joys, it is well worth the time.
Stars: Overall 4 Narration 3 Story 4
Title: Our Homesick Songs
Author: Emma Hooper
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Family Saga, Setting: Canada
Narrator: Nicole Power
Published by: Hamish Hamilton, Simon & Schuster Audio
Published on: 14 August, 2018
Source: Simon and Schuster Audio
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 17 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
**LONGLISTED FOR THE GILLER PRIZE**
From Emma Hooper, critically acclaimed author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James, a People magazine “Pick of the Week,” comes a lyrical, charming, and mystical story of a family on the edge of extinction, and the different way each of them fights to keep hope, memory, and love alive.
The Connor family is one of the few that is still left in their idyllic fishing village, Big Running; after the fish mysteriously disappeared, most families had no choice but to relocate and find work elsewhere. Aidan and Martha Connor now spend alternate months of the year working at an energy site up north to support their children, Cora and Finn. But soon the family fears they’ll have to leave Big Running for good. And as the months go on, plagued by romantic temptations new and old, the emotional distance between the once blissful Aidan and Martha only widens.
Between his accordion lessons and reading up on Big Running’s local flora and fauna, eleven-year-old Finn Connor develops an obsession with solving the mystery of the missing fish. Aided by his reclusive music instructor Mrs. Callaghan, Finn thinks he may have discovered a way to find the fish, and in turn, save the only home he’s ever known. While Finn schemes, his sister Cora spends her days decorating the abandoned houses in Big Running with global flair—the baker’s home becomes Italy; the mailman’s, Britain. But it’s clear she’s desperate for a bigger life beyond the shores of her small town. As the streets of Big Running continue to empty Cora takes matters—and her family’s shared destinies—into her own hands.
In Our Homesick Songs, Emma Hooper paints a gorgeous portrait of the Connor family, brilliantly weaving together four different stories and two generations of Connors, full of wonder and hope. Told in Hooper’s signature ethereal style, each page of this incandescent novel glows with mythical, musical wonder.
A copy of this title was provided via Simon and Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.