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Creation by Katherine Govier

Creation (2002)

by Katherine Govier

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Showing 5 of 5
Really wanted to like this fictionalized account of Audubon's trip to Labrador, but it fell pretty flat. I did pick the right place to read it though (took it on vacation to the rocky Maine coast, where I could read it in view of eider ducks and diving gannets). ( )
  JBD1 | Sep 23, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this novel with the careful descriptions of the internal terrain of the artist J.J. Audubon, and can almost see him peering over his painting in the half-lit cabin of a shipful of men he has not chosen to journey with. It's also an eye-opening book into the natural world, not only birds but sea and flora.
It was a little bit slow at times, but I think it's a complementary pace to the main character, who processes much and observes even more. ( )
  salerie | Jan 29, 2013 |
The point of departure for this biographical/historical novel is the curious omission among John James Audubon’s personal papers of any documents written during his 1833 expedition to Labrador. The novelist fills this absence in the historical record with imagined motives, desires, and actions that Audubon pursued during his 1833 expedition—an expedition on which he met British Naval Marine Surveyor, Henry Wolsey Bayfield. The novelist draws comparisons between the two men’s lives and work (charting the eastern shoreline of Canada and illustrating the birds of North America), while exploring philosophical themes characteristic of the early 19th century Western quests to describe, record, compile, and claim dominion over the vast world. Although not a central theme, a noteworthy element of the novel is that it depicts production of the famous Birds of America not as the efforts of a lone artist, but rather as an effort involving upwards of thirty workers—an early instance of assembly-line-art production, perhaps. Intertwined with the narrative of Audubon’s and Bayfield’s respective quests are personal revelations about Audubon’s marriage, his domineering relationship over his sons, his romantic friendship with Maria Martin (who later became mother-in-law to his sons and grandmother to his grandchildren), and the scandalous circumstances surrounding his birth and upbringing. ( )
  SheWoreRedShoes | Feb 21, 2010 |
An interesting look at one of the voyages of James Audubon up the coast of Labrador, while he was working on his Birds of North America. An insiteful look at the workings of his mind and his foretelling of the extinction of species.
  alioop | Aug 23, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0786259264, Hardcover)

“In a life so well-documented, these next few months form a rare gap. It is as if the dark cloud and fog Audubon sails into transcends mere weather, and becomes a state of mind. As if Labrador itself (or its weather) swallows the story.”

His need to capture the fugitive colours of birds pushed John James Audubon into impossible places, none more dangerous than the fog-ridden coast of Labrador in the summer of 1833. In mesmerizing prose, novelist Katherine Govier explores this fateful summer in the life of a man as untamed as his subjects.

Running two steps ahead of the bailiff, alternately praised and reviled by critics, John James Audubon set himself the audacious task of drawing, from nature, every bird in North America. The result was his masterpiece, The Birds of America, which he and his family published and sold to subscribers on both sides of the Atlantic. In June 1833, he enlisted his son and a party of young gentlemen to set sail for nesting grounds no ornithologist had ever seen, in the treacherous passage between Newfoundland and Labrador.

Fogbound at Little Natashquan, he encounters Captain Henry Wolsey Bayfield of the Royal Navy, whose mission is to chart the labyrinthine coast to make it safe for sea traffic. Bayfield is an exacting and duty-bound aristocrat; the charismatic Audubon spins tales to disguise his dubious parentage and lack of training. Bayfield is a confirmed bachelor; Audubon is a married man in love with his young assistant. But the captain becomes the artist’s foil and his measuring stick, his judge and, oddly, the recipient of his long-held secrets.

In this atmospheric and enthralling novel, Katherine Govier recreates the summer in which “the world’s greatest living bird artist” finally understood the paradox embedded in his art: that the act of creation was also an act of destruction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:18 -0400)

John James Audubon embarks on an expedition to the Canada's maritime provinces to document the Great Auk and other rare birds, sailing with Royal Navy Captain Henry Bayfield, who is determined to chart the coastline along the way.

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