I imagine if you live in a bigger city then you might be used to reading a novel with settings you are familiar with, but generally that hasn’t happened for me. I live on an island off the Canadian coast, there aren’t a lot of novels written with this area as the backdrop. So it was with a strange feeling that I read Jack Hodgins’ book The Macken Charm. The town itself is fictional, but it is set just down the road from my home, and the landmarks and places in the book are all real.
The story is about an island family, large, that made its way here after WWI. While the story is narrated by a son, the story is about family, and breaking expectations, and dreams, and relationships. It is gentle yet harsh, and funny yet bitter, all at the same time. A snapshot of a large family who depended on this resource rich island and the life it gave them, yet who weren’t all content.
I think this story would resonate with any reader, although it was certainly more special because these were places I knew and people I understood, people who live in my town and who are as connected to the island as this family was. The author is decidedly Canadian, something about the gentle humour is reminiscent of other Canadian authors who have written about Canadian life in the 1950s.
Enjoyable experience, this one.