Homesick CL

Guy Vanderhaeghe, Author
Guy Vanderhaeghe, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89919-925-2
Reviewed on: 05/01/1990
Release date: 05/01/1990
Canadian writer Vanderhaeghe ( Man Descending ) here examines the alienation plaguing three generations of a stiff-necked provincial family. In the late 1950s, widow Vera Miller returns home to her elderly father Alec in Saskatchewan after an absence of 17 years. Her teenage son Daniel has been getting out of hand--he is the cause of their homecoming. Once bitter because her father forced her to quit school to care for her younger, motherless brother Earl, proud Vera now takes a job as a movie usher while her son struggles to make friends and turns to his increasingly dotty grandfather for comfort. Daniel learns from Alec that Earl, whose whereabouts are unknown to his sister, died some years ago of meningitis while hospitalized for a mental breakdown. Told in alternating voices and flashbacks, the narrative does not always hang together, and skimpy characterization sometimes renders Vera, the novel's emotional center, shrill and unsympathetic. However, the author's skillful depiction of the growing relationship between Daniel and Alec is warm and real, as is the gradual breakdown of barriers between father and daughter. The novel ultimately succeeds as a quiet, moving story of family forgiveness. (May)
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