It’s hard to review the written text of plays in a blog that’s dedicated pretty much to reviewing novels and nonfiction, but I wanted to included Salt Water Moon and (to a lesser degree) Leaving Home in this round-up of books I read while researching That Forgetful Shore. What led me to read them was that David French is one of the two well-known Newfoundland writers to have been born in Coley’s Point, the town where my novel is more-or-less set (though it has a different name in the novel). Salt Water Moon is also set in Coley’s Point in the 1920s, so I read it mainly for local colour. Leaving Home deals with the same characters many years later (though I think it was written earlier) when they are living in Toronto, so was a little less relevant to my research, but I read it just to round out the story.
I’ve seen Salt Water Moon performed, as has almost everyone in Newfoundland I guess, and it really is a lovely little play and does indeed contain some nice little bits of period detail and local colour such as I was looking for. Leaving Home didn’t work as well for me but I’m sure that’s because I was reading it without ever having seen it; plays are meant to be performed not read (as I tell my students every year before we get ready to butcher Shakespeare). I recommend going out and catching a performance of either of these plays if they’re ever being performed near you, because French really is a fine playwright.