A CENTURY OF NOVEMBER

W. D. Wetherell, Author . Univ. of Michigan $24 (164p) ISBN 978-0-472-11431-3

Wetherell (Morning ; Chekhov's Sister ) traces the arc of a father's loss in this poignant, probing story about a Canadian judge who journeys from Vancouver to the European battlefield where his son died during the waning days of WWI. Charles Marden is a widower quietly absorbed in his life as a rural magistrate, but his foreboding is also revealed immediately: "He judged men and he grew apples and it was a perilous autumn for both." When he learns that his son, William, has been killed in battle, he immediately decides to visit his grave. Marden is initially denied permission to visit Flanders by the British authorities, but the sudden end of the war changes his situation, and his journey becomes more urgent when he learns that William had impregnated a girl from Belfast, Elaine Reed, who is already in Europe at the battle site. The plot takes several odd, macabre turns once Marden reaches the village where William died, especially when he has to make a deal with a shell-shocked soldier in order to visit the exact death site and learn the particulars of William's final hours. Wetherell's prose and character writing are unflinching, and the final meeting between Marden and Reed is gut-wrenching. Though the novel travels a well-trodden route, Wetherell's take on a parent's anguish is deeply moving. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 164 pages - 978-0-472-03122-1
Open Ebook - 173 pages - 978-0-472-02161-1
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