You might want to refer to my recent review of Jonathan Harr’s The Lost Painting for a refresher on my relationship with non-fiction. While I always prefer a novel, I am getting better at reading non-fiction that is both informative and engaging. Domino definitely falls into this category, as Maura Hanrahan does her usual deft job of bringing Newfoundland history to life.
The scene this time is the Labrador summer fishery in the year 1885, when deadly storms crippled much of the Newfoundland fishing fleet and resulted in the loss of many lives. Hanrahan does a beautiful job of recreating this place and time, including many vivid characters. We meet Labrador “liveyers” and Newfoundland fishermen and their families, as well as the merchants and shipping captains who profited from the fishery.
Unlike many non-fiction writers, Maura Hanrahan understands that people like to read about people, so she focuses her story around a few vividly realized characters through whose eyes we experience the tragedies of 1885. Domino kept me turning pages and, as with The Lost Painting, I was left with the feeling that I had been both entertained and educated: taken into a world I didn’t know much about and made to feel at home there.
October 15, 2006 · 9:44 pm