Winner of Canada Reads 2013 and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize
In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's Day storm. All eighty-four men aboard died. February is the story of Helen O'Mara, one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns on the rig. It begins in the present-day, more than twenty-five years later, but spirals back again and again to the "February" that persists in Helen's mind and heart.
Writing at the peak of her form, her steadfast refusal to sentimentalize coupled with an almost shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters' physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore gives us her strongest work yet. Here is a novel about complex love and cauterizing grief, about past and present and how memory knits them together, about a fiercely close community and its universal struggles, and finally about our need to imagine a future, no matter how fragile, before we truly come home. This is a profound, gorgeous, heart-stopping work from one of our best writers.
Lisa Moore is the acclaimed author of February and Alligator. February won CBC's Canada Reads competition, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and was named a New Yorker Best Book of the Year, and a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book. Alligator was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Canada and the Caribbean), and was a national bestseller. Her story collection Open was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a national bestseller. She lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.
...exquisitely mindful...All is suffering, certainly, but it's just as true that all is also pretty funny. Moore gets this. She gets life...Moore offers us, elegantly, exultantly, the very consciousness of her characters. In this way, she does more than make us feel for them. She makes us feel what they feel, which is the point of literature and maybe even the point of being human.
Complex yet clear, compelling and profound, the style is a joy to read and Lisa Moore's story-spinning gift is great. Her people become our people, her richly described settings our own.
A solid, unflinching, unsentimental study of grief...Moore's descriptive powers, her enviable ability to highlight defining elements of character (either individual or societal) by making perceptive observations, are, as always, in evidence.
...a stark tale of cauterizing grief, one that left me spellbound in admiration...a well-conceived work of the imagination...
[February] is what great prose should be...a work of art...a moving narrative of risk, love, loss, and surviving...
It has been a joy indeed to discover Lisa Moore. Despite her great success with a previous novel and two collections of short fiction, February is the first book I have read by this talented Canadian writer. I shall soon be reading the rest.
...here is writing that examines the richness of the everyday with an incredibly keen eye and renders it without sentimentality but with profound empathy.
An intense and absorbing read.
Although Moore does a good job of depicting remembered incidents the novel is best in its intimate rendering of thought and feeling.
Moore...is one of the smartest, sharpest minds among Canada’s younger fiction writers, and she deftly averts the saccharine and hyperbolic in this, her second novel.
Lisa Moore is an astonishing writer. She brings to her pages what we are always seeking in fiction and only find the best of it: a magnetizing gift for revealing how the earth feels, looks, tastes, smells, and an unswerving instinct for what's important in life.
Moore deftly weaves together the present...and the past, evoking memory and grief in pitch-perfect detail.
...Moore, whose previous novel, Alligator (2006), won a Commonwealth Writers' Prize, renders sensations with the precision of a Vermeer.
There is no one else in the country who can touch Lisa Moore's elegant rendering of language...She's distinctive, and what she does with language is nothing less than dazzling, and then there is her uncanny ability to inhabit every pore and sinew of her endearingly human characters...What she does with language is pure art.
Lisa Moore's work is passionate, gritty, lucid and, beautiful. She has a great gift.
Moore never errs on the side of sentimentality...Loneliness is hard to write about without becoming maudlin or cliched. But Moore seems to understand this very human facility, describing the unconscious ways we sometimes try to avoid feeling overwhelmed by it...Moore shows how life's everyday tasks and encounters create a comforting continuity that eventually wears down emotional pain to allow forward movement...You'll be surprised at this novel's ability to uplift.
Moore pens another triumph...emotional tension, coupled with an acute eye for regional setting and dialect, has long been a hallmark of Moore's work...the hauntingly beautiful February, is likely to turn some heads and hearts as well.
Canadian writer Lisa Moore's second novel solidifies her reputation as a gifted writer whose prose exhibits an urgency, precision, and sensitivity worthy of the legacy of Virginia Woolf.
...Moore has established with her second novel a distinctive voice in Canadian literature. Language in Moore's capable hands is often deceptively spare, revealing for the careful reader layers of acute insight. Her writing in February is characterized by a raw, stream-of-consciousness intensity...
Loneliness is hard to write about without become maudlin or cliched. But Moore never errs on the side of sentimentality...There's an economy in Moore's style that shows us how a once vibrant life can be whittled down by pain and loneliness. But, by grounding her writing in the physical world, Moore shows how life's everyday tasks and encounters create a comforting continuity that allows forward movement.
Moore's writing resembles poetry...She expertly captures her characters' physical surroundings in sharp-edged fragments of colour and sensation...Helen comes across as a perfectly ordinary woman...But that's what [February] is about: a perfectly ordinary woman whose life is profoundly changed by an extraordinary event. This is a marvellous book.
...here is writing that examines the richness of the everyday with an incredibly keen eye and renders it without sentimentality but with profound empathy...Like standing in the February winter wind, reading this novel is harrowing, almost painful, but once you step out of it, you appreciate the warmth in your world that much more.
This mesmerising book is full of tears, and is a graceful meditation on how to survive life's losses.