Thursday, December 3, 2009
A Good House by Bonnie Burnard
This book won the Giller Prize in 1999 (for American readers, the Giller Prize is the most valuable literary prize in Canada), and I can see why. The prose is striking, and the story is well tied together. In the opening chapter, set in the early 50's, the author establishes this beautiful setting of a town with a sweetly trickling creek running through. The water motif is something that is brought up often, and in the last chapter, set in the late 90's, the moving creek makes another appearance, telling readers that the only constant that can be counted on is change.
What was a little annoying for me, as a reader, was the lack of dialogue. There were meaningful exchanges at key moments, but Burnard relied on descriptive prose to convey her story of a family as they move through their years together. Perhaps I've grown too accustomed to reading literature of the average woman, the trashy Chicklit that is great mindless reading, but is by no means Giller Prize quality.
What I did enjoy was the "Every Family" quality of this story. This really could be the story of any Canadian family - modest, at times dramatic, but more often menial - and that makes this story truly accessible to everyone.