Barometer Rising (New Canadian Library)
10 journalers for this copy...
1. When you receive the book, make a journal entry to let me know it got to you ok.
2. While reading the book, feel free to post on the appropriate Book Talk Forum thread here.
3. When you're done, make a journal entry and let us know what you thought.
4. PM the person next in order (please check here for the current order) for a current mailing address (please confirm that they're ready to receive the book).
5. Mail the book, make a journal entry and mark the book as travelling.
*keep the book for a maximum of 4 weeks. If you feel you can't read it in this amount of time, or you wish to be skipped for any reason, let me know & I'll rearrange the mailing order.
*sign your name inside the back cover of the book if you like.
*feel free to include a postcard, bookmark or other trinket with the book.
Thanks & have fun reading!
Order of go:
sent on November 25/05
1. ldpaulson (California, USA)- arrived December 13/05; sent December 28/05
2. Lil-Snoo (California, USA)- arrived January 3/06; sent February 13/06
3. neriman (Hawaii, USA)- arrived February 21/06; sent March 6/06
4. teacher57 (Wisconsin, USA)- arrived around March 15/06; sent June 13/06
5. cnfotp (Oxfordshire, UK)- arrived June 19/06; sent July 10/06
6. Sujie (New South Wales, Australia) - arrived July 18/06; sent July 30/06
7. Thursday5 (Ohio, USA)- arrived August 17; sent August 20/06
8. Megi53 (Virginia, USA) - arrived August 26/06; sent September 19/06
9. bibliotreker (Pennsylvania, USA) - arrived around September 23/06; sent October 21/06
... Back to Ibis3 (Ontario, Canada)
Seriously, World War I was a very important period in Canadian history. The same discussion transpired near Remembrance Day. The person was proudly displaying a poppy and lovingly recited "In Flanders' Fields." This is the same era in which this novel is set.
So now you know why I'm participating and why I'm eager to read BAROMETER RISING and the rest of the books in the series. Thanks, Ibis3!
Another ring ahead of this, but I'm eager to start reading.
Barometer Rising, Hugh MacLennan's first novel, is a compelling romance set against the horrors of wartime and the catastophic Halifax Explosion of Thursday, December 6, 1917.
Written during World War II, BAROMETER RISING is more than a mere romance. MacLennan has dared to use his characters and war as a tool to probe at the Canadian character. What is it? What does it mean to be Canadian and a citizen of the Empire in a changing world?
Penelope Wain is perhaps my favorite of the characters. She is strong and goes strongly against convention/type as she is educated and modern. It's not going too far to suggest that she is liberated by 1917 standards since she thinks for herself and has been educated sufficiently that she works as a ship designer in Halifax.
MacLennan is a wonderfully descriptive writer and he balances this by not straying into excess. (You are spared the lengthy quoting of particular passages. Read the book yourself!) He also does a first-rate job of creating a broad range of characters -- from a schoolboy to an aging matriarch -- then examining their psyches as they, in turn, are observing the world around them, often in profound ways.
A stunning and wholly satisfying read. Thank you, Ibis3! You've whetted my palate for more Canadian literature. I cannot WAIT for the other books in this series. In all seriousness, I would hope to add this to my library. It is a wonderfully satisfying read and as deep as it is lyrical. Thank you!
UPDATE: Sent to meriman first class mail 2/13/06.
This book is fascinating in so many ways. It's a scathing critique of Canada's subservience to England during WWI, as well as a commentary on the horror and meaninglessness of war in general. The description of the Halifax explosion of 1917 is spectacular; reading it, I felt as though I were there myself. The moments before Jim and Mary Fraser's death are especially moving. Another aspect of the plot that's realistic is that up until the explosion, all the characters are caught up in their own problems, unaware that a catastrophe will soon change everything. Since the reader anticipates the explosion, this creates an interesting tension. As I read the book, I kept thinking that "life is what happens to us while we're busy making other plans."
As a female physicist, I have a few complaints about Penny's character. MacLennan mocks people's reactions to Penny's choice of profession, but in the first half of the book, he objectifies her: he can't mention her without also mentioning how slim, sensual, curvaceous and sexual her body is. This might be acceptable once but gets annoying on repetition. Penny's submissiveness with Neil is also a bit hard to believe. MacLennan seems to suggest that what pushed Penny into such a male-dominated and competitive profession was losing Neil; at the end of the novel, Penny appears to have given up her career without a second thought. Perhaps MacLennan is criticizing the culture of the era, which presented few options to a gifted woman like Penny; that may be what he means when he writes that "[Penny] was a prisoner of [Neil's] maleness because once she had wanted him and he had refused to forget it." It may be that in the second-last chapter, Penny is tempted to dump Neil and marry Angus Murray; but her past with Neil makes that impossible. Angus Murray was my favorite character in the book, mainly because of how understanding and respectful he was of Penny; I was disgusted with Neil's attitude when he found out that Penny had been designing boats. How can an intelligent woman marry someone like that? Can you tell I got completely absorbed in this book?
Thank you, Ibis3, for starting this bookring. I might never have gotten around to reading this amazing book otherwise. I'm going to buy a copy for my personal collection; I want to read it again sometime when I'm a little less frazzled with work.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
At last!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Poor book, suffocating in a mailing envelope because the second Tuesday of the month was an extra week away! Sigh...
It should arrive in the UK in 5-7 days, and then I won't have to be too ashamed to open my e-mail. Again, my humble apologies for holding the book hostage!!!
I'm PMing the next person on the list, but it may take me about a week to get the book moving again as I currently have no internet access at home. Thanks :)
But, wow, what a great read for all its shortcomings and first novel flaws! I thought the chapters dealing with the explosion more gripping than most action novels I've read or films I've seen. He was a painterly writer with almost blinding clarity. I felt the characters were less brilliantly handled.
I thought I should know more about the Halifax disaster after reading an Anita Shreve novel touching on this. This novel has probably filled in more gaps than a non-fiction book could with me. I also learned that Canada shares with Australia that historical cringe as a colonial outpost of Britain. (I hope it is historical!) As late as the fifties Australians still called England "Home" or "The Mother Country".
Thanks for making this fascinating book available, Ibis. I am really looking forward to more of your Canlit list.
I'll post to Thursday when I get her address.
This is only the 4th book I have rated as a 10 since joining Bookcrossing. The writing was artful and the characters rich and strong. Barometer Rising fits the description of "A Good Book" that I have on my bookshelf-especially the part about being exposed to things you wouldn't have been exposed to otherwise.
I spent time this past summer in Nova Scotia- in the Shelburne area studying history and in Northern Cape Breton enjoying the natural beauty, music, and local people. This book helped me to further develop my understanding of the history and culture of the province. As any good book on history does, it also helped me to develop connections to bigger ideas such as the effects of war, how a national identity is formed, and what happens to a place and people after catastrophic events. I was interested in how the Canadian colonial experience compared to the US Colonial experience and to other colonial experiences in such places as Singapore which also was a major harbor of British Empire.
I will PM the next person on the bookring and get the book sent off right away.
(from page 180): "Not a breeze stirred. A veil of mist rose from the surface of the harbour and spread like a pool into the lower streets of the town, where it lay until the sun rose and turned it into a trillion points of flashing light."
(from page 250): "In the dawn the harbour was bleak and steel-coloured, extending into the whitened land like a scimitar with broken edges, stained by fragments of debris drifting with the tide."
The characters were pleasant, and a facet of the author himself seemed to shine through each of them.
So glad I got to experience an excellent Canadian author and learn more about an important event in history (the largest man-made explosion up until that time -- not exceeded until the atomic bomb; wow).
The afterword by Alistair MacLeod was rather dry. I should have left it for another day instead of reading it immediately after the sweetly sentimental train ride of Neil and Penny.
Packaged to mail off to bibliotreker after work today.
I didn't have an extra $2 to mail the book first class, but will put these items in an envelope with a 39-cent stamp and mail them to bibliotreker separately. He/she won't have any trouble including them in a mailing to Canada...
As long as I'm making an additional journal entry, let me point out how apropos one character's comment was (or was it MacLeod saying this?): Americans were never so happy as when they were responding to a disaster, as long as it was big enough. Touché! Wish I had copied down that passage.
I think the reference in Barometer Rising to Americans overreacting to disasters was meant snidely -- that's why I wish I remembered if it were in MacLeod's afterword. MacLennan writes in such a gentle manner that it didn't seem like something he'd ordinarily say.
I used to be curious about how others viewed Americans -- how they would imitate our accents or mock us, etc. -- and thanks to BC, I'm finding out!
ETA: (after reading the j/e below): it wasn't grief to get the package inspected -- I thought it was funny, because I'm always warning people not to include extras in their media mail, and then I ended up getting caught! It was funny, really -- and b, I sent you the extras in an envelope yesterday. This time the clerk wondered if it was a birthday card. :-)
Arrived last week while I was away. Sorry to read, Megi53, that this mailing caused you so much grief.
It made me wonder how did the explosion affect that area not terribly far from Halifax. Many Nova Scotians from other regions of the provence travel to Halifax for one reason or another. Being that it was wartime probably more than usual were there. I ,too, read Anita Shreve's recent novel, "A Wedding in December", where much of it takes place in Halifax during the tragedy and found myself comparing the two novels.
As far as American coming to the aid of the rest of the world during times of disaster, can we never forget when Canadians came to the rescue of American and European passagers stranded in the Maritimes when their planes were grounded immediately after 9/11. A good book on that topic is titled "The Day the World Came to Town" by Jim Defede when one of those planes landed in a small town in Newfoundland.
Thanks Ibis3 for a great read. Since there is no media mail outside the U.S. I was able to sent it with all of the enclosures it has picked up along it way. Thanks megi53 for the bookmark.
Sent this well traveled book home again, home again, back to Canada, mailed Saturday 21 October 2006.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I decided to let this book continue its journey and sent it as part of gypsysmom's Canada Day Release Challenge to Anthony Rota, Member of Parliament for Nipissing—Timiskaming who is doing a book drive for Canadian troops in Afghanistan.
I hope whoever finds this book enjoys this taste of home.