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Bay of Spirits: A Love Story by Farley Mowat

Bay of Spirits: A Love Story (2006)

by Farley Mowat

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Read this book after a trip to Newfoundland and learned much more about this wonderful Island
  jamesju | Aug 2, 2009 |
Never read any of Farley Mowat's books before, but this one looked interesting so I bought a used copy. I liked the premise of the thing, and the descriptions of little Newfoundland outports and their people in the 1960s (I have never been there, let alone in the 1960s). Was predictably horrified by the accounts of senseless violence against wildlife and on the environment itself, particularly by a people who are so dependent economically on them... But I suppose the point of Mowat's describing those anecdotes was to horrify the reader. I didn't find this book too appealing, perhaps---and I recognize how judgmental this sounds---because of some of the choices he made in his personal life and his frank unapologetic tone about them. Particularly since the book is touted as 'a love story,' I was surprised that the love story--in addition to the love story Mowat had with Newfoundland and its people--was also referring to a several-years-long extramarital affair. That made it hard to feel happy for him and his new love--I found my mind wandering to his forgotten wife and children back in Canada, and wondering what their story was.

Upshot: I didn't like this book too much because it wasn't too awfully enjoyable to read. But I do intend to read more of Mowat's works.
  chained_bear | Jan 22, 2009 |
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A love affair with a special woman and a special world.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0771064675, Paperback)

In 1957, Farley Mowat shipped out aboard one of Newfoundland’s famous coastal steamers, tramping from outport to outport along the southwest coast. The indomitable spirit of the people and the bleak beauty of the landscape would lure him back again and again over the years. In the process of falling in love with a people and a place, Mowat also met the woman who would be the great love of his life.

A stunningly beautiful and talented young artist, Claire Wheeler insouciantly climbed aboard Farley’s beloved but jinxed schooner as it lay on the St. Pierre docks, once again in a cradle for repairs, and changed both their lives forever. This is the story of that love affair, of summers spent sailing the Newfoundland coast, and of their decision to start their life together in Burgeo, one of the province’s last remaining outports. It is also an unforgettable portrait of the last of the outport people and a way of life that had survived for centuries but was now passing forever.

Affectionate, unsentimental, this is a burnished gem from an undiminished talent.

I was inside my vessel painting the cabin when I heard the sounds of a scuffle nearby. I poked my head out the companionway in time to see a lithesome young woman swarming up the ladder which leaned against Happy Adventure’s flank. Whining expectantly, the shipyard dog was endeavouring to follow this attractive stranger. I could see why. As slim and graceful as a ballet dancer (which, I would later learn, was one of her avocations), she appeared to be wearing a gleaming golden helmet (her own smoothly bobbed head of hair) and was as radiantly lovely as any Saxon goddess. I invited her aboard, while pushing the dog down the ladder.

“That’s only Blanche,” I reassured my visitor. “He won’t bite. He’s just, uh . . . being friendly.”

“That’s nice to know,” she said sweetly. Then she smiled . . . and I was lost.

–From Bay of Spirits

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)

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