Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Shipping News - book review

As part of my goal to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners in fiction, I recently completed the 1994 winner, The Shipping News by Annie Proulx.

So far, the Fiction Pulitzer Prize winners I've read have been ones that I either really like or really don't like. However, this book falls in the middle as there were things I liked (the innocence of Quoyle, the main character, and his love and care for his daughters) and those that I didn't (the writing style, the numerous illusions to sexual assault).

The story is set in Newfoundland, a large Canadian island that I honestly do not know much about. The book portrays the island as a rather inhospitable place inhabited by an eclectic cast of characters who endure the stormy and unpredictable weather along with unusually high incidents of sexual abuse and car accidents. The setting is a dreary backdrop for the story and the writing style, while poetic in a sense, made for slow reading.

I did enjoy the story of Quoyle and how he came to Newfoundland and made a life for himself and his daughters after his philandering wife was killed in an accident, and I was glad that he found love in the end. Here's a great quote when he first began to consider the possibility of finding love, or at least comfort, with someone new. 

On the stairs an image came to him. Was love then like a bag of assorted sweets passed around from which one might choose more than once? Some might sting the tongue, some invoke night perfume. Some had centers as bitter as gall, some blended honey and poison, some were quickly swallowed. And among the common bull's-eyes and peppermints a few rare ones; one or two with deadly needles at the heart, another that brought calm and gentle pleasure. Were his fingers closing on that one?

Have you read this book? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I've not read the book but have seen the film as someone recommended it to me. I can't say I enjoyed it much but I do find the book is always better.

  2. Our book group read The Shipping News years ago, and if I remember correctly, we, too, gave it mixed reviews. It wasn't any easy read, but the writing was remarkable, and we were glad we had read it. I only vaguely remember seeing the movie.

  3. Just doesn't seem like my kind of book.

  4. I haven't read this book yet..but like you I am aiming to read a lot of the major prize-winning books too!

  5. I read this book years ago and don't really remember that much about it---except that I considered it a dark book---subject and setting!

  6. No I haven't read this one. I'm a little intrigued by it now, though, I have to admit


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