Mar 6, 2012
Author: Peter Behrens
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Pantheon (March 6, 2012)
Think Thorn Birds of Canada. A big sweeping novel of a family forging an empire out of nothing. The Thorn Birds had Australia and drought and priests who couldn't keep their pants on. The O'Briens have Canada with it's logging and railroads and the United States and priests that do keep their pants on. I admit that I enjoy epic, generational stories so I was most eager to dive into this one.
Joe O'Brien comes from a hard scrabble existence and his only goal in life since he was 13 was to provide for his family. He's business smart and tough as nails. By 17 he has a thriving business and by 25 he's rich. His sisters are sent to the nunnery, one brother to the priesthood and another to war. Joe finds a wife and together they forge a life together that goes from camp tents in the woods to mansions in California.
Joe spends much of his life making sure his family has all of their needs met, but emotionally he seems not to be there for them. He doesn't know how, he never had the opportunity to explore that side of life.
He and his wife are both are serious minded souls who seem to have their emotions tamped down tightly. You admire them, but would have a hard time seeing yourself at a dinner table chatting over dessert. They survive, thrive, do good deeds, but all in a dry, emotionless manner.
While I did stay immersed in the O'Brien family's issues, one of the other pleasing aspects of the book is it's attention to historical detail. Because it stretches through decades of time, it gives great attention to events in Canada and the United States that help to grow and shape both countries. The book starts in the 1880s and goes through to the 1960s so many important historical events are covered. It's nice to read the story from a Canadian point of view!
Reviewed by Idgie. If you would like to have the Dew review a book, please contact me at email@example.com