Posted by: Kate | November 14, 2012

Book Review: The Macken Charm

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.



  1. Looks good, Kate. I often wonder how much my interest in a novel has to do with what is happening in my life at the moment, or where I’m reading the book. I do live in a city, but almost always read of very different places, and often different times.

  2. I love when I find a book that is ‘close to home’. I’ll look it up at the library, I’ve grown to love the books you read :)

    Your review reminded me of the infamous whale & it’s human-helper, in or around your locale. I wrote it down somewhere … Does it ring a bell?

  3. thanks kate – i’m off to add it to my reading queue!
    (which seems to grow every time you post a book review!)

  4. Sounds like an interesting one. I find that I do seem to relate more when I know the ‘place’ of the book. David Guterson writes of the Northwest and I often know exactly where he is writing about. And I just picked up ‘The Jump-off Creek’ because it is about home-steading in NE Oregon. I haven’t gotten far into the book, but already I know some of her landmarks.

Welcome! I always like to hear what people think of a post, it often leads to a great discussion! I am now responding to comments and questions right in the comments themselves, so other people can follow the conversation.

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