By Lynn Willoughby
The Innocents ~ Michael Crummey
This novel is short-listed for the Giller Prize. Set in northern Newfoundland, it is a story of survival, hard work, loneliness and deprivation – not an easy read.
Evered us about fourteen when his parents both die. His sister, Ada, is about twelve. They have lived their entire lives on an isolated bay with no relatives, no neighbours, no schooling. They know nothing of the world beyond their cove and the endless work necessary for survival. After the death of their parents, they put their heads down and do what they have always done – work.
Twice a year a supply ship arrives. Their father used to row out with their stores of salt cod and return with tea, flour and other staples. Now that Evered is the man of this little family, it becomes his duty and he discovers that his father has run up a considerable debt. Now that there are only two sets of hands, instead of four, to catch and prepare the fish for trade, he realizes it is unlikely the debt will ever be paid. A bleak future lies ahead for the youngsters.
After an horrific storm, the children discover salvage items washed up on their beach. Ada finds some men’s clothing and quickly resorts to wearing trousers and two right shoes, instead of the too tight and out grown clothes she has only worn. Various other treasures briefly improve their lives. Their lives are heart- wrenchingly sad and squalid.
“…a spell binding story of survival in which a brother and sister confront the limits of human endurance and their own capacity for loyalty and forgiveness,” ~Goodreads
- and others
Salvage is the rescue of the cargo from a ship lost at sea.