From bestselling, award winning author Michael Crummey comes a sweeping, heart wrenching, deeply immersive novel about a brother and sister alone in a small world A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland s northern coastline Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep themAs they fight for their own survival through years of meagre catches and storms and ravaging illness, it is their fierce loyalty to each other that motivates and sustains them But as seasons pass and they wade deeper into the mystery of their own natures, even that loyalty will be testedThis novel is richly imagined and compulsively readable, a riveting story of hardship and survival, and an unflinching exploration of the bond between brother and sister By turns electrifying and heartbreaking, it is a testament to the bounty and barbarity of the world, to the wonders and strangeness of our individual selves

12 thoughts on “The Innocents

  1. Krista Krista says:

    They were left together in the cove then with its dirt floored stud tilt, with its garden of root vegetables and its scatter of outbuildings, with its looming circle of hills and rattling brook and its view of the ocean s grey expanse beyond the harbour skerries The cove was the heart and sum of all creation in their eyes and they were alone there with the little knowledge of the world passed on haphazard and gleaned by chance I love when an ARC opens with a note from the book s editor, giving some insider bit of info, and The Innocents begins with, Years ago, in the archives, Michael Crummey found mention of a late eighteenth century clergyman who had happened upon an adolescent brother and sister living all alone in an isolated cove off the northern coast of Newfoundland When the clergyman approached the siblings to inquire into their circumstances, into how they were managing to survive, he was driven off the cove by the boy at gunpoint The implications of that encounter would stay with Michael and eventually inspire The Innocents In March of 2018, there were 1,500 words by July, there were 90,000 I can t help but think the intensity of the novel s creation is reflected in the thing itself I quote Martha Kanya Forstner at length here because that s all a prospective reader really needs to know From the merest suggestion of a plot situation, Michael Crummey has dreamed up two fully formed characters, bound by blood and the desperate quest for survival for which their parents never dreamed they d so soon need to be fully prepared, and by richly describing their daily labour, and throwing in intermittent visits from outsiders that expand the siblings understanding of the wider world, Crummey does right by history, literature, and the exploration of humanity It s all here and it s all good Note As I did read an ARC, passages quoted may not be in their final forms Evered and Ada Best were approaching twelve and eleven, as near as it can be reckoned, when some illness carried off their parents one winter The parents are present for just enough at the beginning of the story to show what kind of world these children were raised in and to underline just what they lost All the two know of their circumstances is that every spring their father would row out to a schooner that anchors at the mouth of their cove to pick up provisions, and then row out again every fall to deliver the season s catch of cod, picking up their winter stores at that time When The Hope appears as expected, Evered rows out and learns the truth of their situation The yearly catch never quite covers the cost of the flour, peas, and molasses that their father would bring home, and being thus in debt to some faraway Mr Strapp, his agent, the Beadle , must decide whether the youngster before him would be capable of bringing in a sufficient haul of cod, or whether he should send the two into service somewhere until they might clear their family s ledger of debt Evered convinces the man to give them a season to prove themselves likely because no one else would want to take over their enterprise with its remote, inhospitable curve of the rock and its sand floored, drafty hut and the siblings begin the back breaking work of hand fishing, preparing salt cod, hard scrabble gardening, and the hundred other tasks of survival Their catch is just decent enough to satisfy the Beadle when he returns again in the fall, but it s not nearly enough to touch the debt and so the seasons and the years go by.Crummey, being a noted poet as well as a novelist, is a master at selecting just the right words to describe the landscape and the atmosphere and the human heart and I am always delighted by his obscure Newfoundlandisms a dwy of snow and my little blowsabella sound like something out of The Jabberwocky to my ear The work and the worries are so well captured, but we never forget that these are children these are innocents I smiled as they played games and especially their invented There s Your Answer and it broke my heart that a snatch of a drinking song that Evered overheard on board The Hope became the only song the siblings knew small blessings, I guess, that they even found the one to fill a dark winter s evening view spoiler Even heartbreaking to learn that their inlet becomes known as Orphan Cove in the greater world Everyone knows the siblings situation and location and no one offers help hide spoiler

  2. Amy Amy says:

    Northern Canada Short summers, long cold winters Illness and hardship leave a brother and sister orphaned in this harsh country, with only the limited knowledge passed on to them by their parents of how their lives are meant to work Young, innocent, and fiercely determined, they rely on each other to carry on as the seasons alternately provide plenty followed by crushing scarcity, raging storms, illness, and the joy of unexpected visitors As the siblings grow into the arduous work of simply surviving, they begin to grow into themselves as well, their loyalty tested in ways as mysterious to them as the shadowy borders of the land they inhabit This book is at once beautiful and heartbreaking, the writing luminous, the characters well drawn Their story is about survival, and family, and how what we don t know can be either our undoing or our salvation.

  3. NidhaRajoli NidhaRajoli says:

    Can we just talk about cover on this beautiful book