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The Island Walkers: A Novel

John Bemrose

682 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0805074112 / ISBN 13: 9780805074116
Published by Metropolitan Books, 2004
Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Island Walkers: A Novel

Publisher: Metropolitan Books

Publication Date: 2004

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Good

Edition: 1st American Ed.

About this title


A powerful first novel about a family that slips from fortune’s favor and a town broken by the forces of modernity

Across a bend of Ontario’s Attawan River lies the Island, a working-class neighborhood of whitewashed houses and vine-freighted fences, black willows and decaying sheds. Here, for generations, the Walkers have lived among the other mill workers.

The family’s troubles begin in the summer of 1965, when a union organizer comes to town and Alf Walker is forced to choose between loyalty to his friends at the mill and advancement up the company ranks. Alf’s worries are aggravated by his wife, Margaret, who has never reconciled her middle-class English upbringing to her blue-collar reality. As the summer passes, Joe, their son, is also forced to reckon with his family’s standing when he falls headlong for a beautiful newcomer on a bridge—a girl far beyond him, with greater experience and broader horizons. As the threat of mill closures looms, the Walkers grapple with their personal crises, just as the rest of the town fights to protect its way of life amid the risks of unionization and the harsh demands of corporate power.

Superbly crafted and deeply moving, this remarkable debut follows the Walkers to the very bottom of their night only to confirm, in the end, life’s ultimate hopefulness. The Island Walkers is at once a love letter to a place, a gripping family saga, and a testimony to the emergence of an important new novelist.

From the Back Cover:

"A beautiful, elegiac novel about place, family, and community. A profoundly moving book."
-Guy Vanderhaeghe

"As Margaret Laurence staked out a world, Manawaka, in her novels and David Adams Richards has mined the Miramichi, Bemrose has created the vivid community of Attawan to tell an archetypal tale."
-Halifax Chronicle-Herald

"An astonishing debut, a big and breathtaking family novel that is both understated and passionate."

"[An] extraordinary debut novel.... Encompassing, bountiful, beautiful...."
-Globe and Mail

"A great reading experience, and Bemrose has now become a fiction writer to watch."
-W.P. Kinsella, Books in Canada

"A clear-eyed eulogy for a town and way of life that is gone forever."
-Sandra Martin, Globe and Mail

"We don't have many novels that cross generations like this and give us both the interior of lives, a sense of social history, and an incredibly strong sense of place. The story is ambitious, and yet simply, beautifully told. The whole thing flows along like a river - a real page-turner with Dantean echoes and lyrical insights that are often breathtaking."
-Marni Jackson

"A powerful debut novel."
-Library Journal

"The Island Walkers is thick with natural beauty and social insight.... A profoundly sensitive portrayal of a family's efforts to find its way through the tangled threads of desire and nobility, guilt and love."
-Christian Science Monitor

"As fine as any novel you will read this year."
-New York Sun
"Richly textured and multilayered.... Masterful.... A beautifully realized and emotionally resonant novel that stays with you long after you turn the last page."
-Kitchener-Waterloo Record

"[An] accomplished first novel...."
-Publishers Weekly

"Rhythmical prose, a strong sense of physical place and a restrained, moving atmosphere of mourning for the past."
-National Post

"A finely wrought first novel...."
-Kirkus Reviews

"A compelling human story.... [This] beautifully crafted debut novel should earn Bemrose a place in the Canlit pantheon...."
-Edmonton Journal

"The book's sense of place, its sense of the acceleration of time between generations, its sudden, surprising insights, give the sprawling story its impressive weight.... A riveting read...."
-London Free Press

"Bemrose has a talent for capturing the sad lyricism of ordinary lives.... Bemrose's poetic touch finds beauty in obscure corners and grandeur in small victories."
-Baltimore Sun

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