In Praise of Great Newfoundland Writers:
Since retiring in 2008, I have fulfilled at least one of my pre-retirement plans! I have concentrated much of my “leisure reading” on books written by Newfoundland authors. A few years ago, I felt some Newfoundland books were poorly written with loosely developed plots, predictable outcomes and “forced” dialect. Thankfully, based on my current reading, this analysis is now history.
Top on my list of recommended Newfoundland writers, is Earl Pilgrim who can “spin a good yarn” surpassing the best of them. A more recent addition to the list is J. Ricketts with her fictionalized account of the Badger riot. However, this winter I made a brand new discovery. For Christmas I received a novel written by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole entitled That Forgetful Shore, published by Breakwater Books.
This book proved to be a well-written, captivating novel with fully developed characters, intriguing plot lines, well -defined settings and easy to follow diction. Based on the lives of two friends who grew up in eastern Newfoundland in the early twentieth century, this book puts a living face on many issues which, while indigenous to that region, also have universal appeal. Isolation, equality, and economic hardship are just a few of the struggles faced, and conquered, by the characters. One issue dealt with by Cole, often either ignored by other writers or dismissed derisively, is the encroachment of minority religions in rural areas. She skillfully portrays their successful proselytizing and the resulting tensions in communities in general and within specific families in particular.
The basic narrative framework on which Cole has chosen to construct her novel could, in less skillful hands, result in awkwardness and confusion for the reader. Once the two main characters reach the age where one chooses to leave their outport and the other stays behind, the course of their lives is followed simultaneously with one chapter centred on one and the next on the other main character. Cole, however, does this seamlessly and the reader is taken from one life to another with ease, and anticipation for how the other person has been doing since we last saw her.
Trudy Morgan-Cole has earned a well-deserved place of acclaim among Newfoundland writers, and this reader cannot wait to get his hands on another of her books and enjoy what should prove to be an enjoyable literary feast.