Friday, April 17, 2015

Winter on Ice

Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest PassageBoundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage by Kathleen Winter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book in a library in London for my mother, an Oxfordshire farmer's granddaughter, who moved to Canada at the age of three. I selected it on the basis that that there was an underlying theme - and fading thread - of old world Englishness and a tenuous link to the subject matter in that my mother went to Newfoundland in the 1980's with her aging parents. Boats and ice floes and Canada's sovereignty in the North Of Canada underline a quiet quest for identity, in Winter's book, where New World technology subsumes Old World human tragedy and Victorian ships slip precariously through ice mountains following native migration routes. Keeping the modern ship entertained is Nathan Rogers, son of Stan who composed the iconic standard Northwest Passage, before being killed in plane fire, himself, while Winter tells the story of her own 'writers' life to date, and the passing of her first husband and the influence of her intrepid English father in the Winter family in Newfoundland. My Mum took the book away on a trip with her and when she came back to London, I asked, "How is the book?" "Enthralled!" Came the reply. So when she was finished I had to read it too. I think this book is on par with the early Margaret Atwood, especially the attention to Canadian nature; it is rich in incident and observation, science plays an important part; geologists on the ship (eventually shipwrecked) have their work cut out explaining rock formations in Northern Canada and Greenland to an intrepid group of odd bods, musicians, Japanese journalists, photographers and parliamentary delegates who sweep in for photoshoots on ice flows. Meanwhile Winter reveals her own past and family dynamic in rich detail. Very good book.

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