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February by Lisa Moore

February (original 2010; edition 2010)

by Lisa Moore

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4604122,586 (3.83)216
Authors:Lisa Moore
Info:Grove Press, Black Cat (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:grief, tragedy, Newfoundland

Work details

February by Lisa Moore (2010)

  1. 10
    Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve (ominogue)
  2. 00
    The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx (Cecilturtle)
  3. 00
    The Hatbox Letters: A Novel by Beth Powning (Iudita)
    Iudita: Another story of a women's grief journey when her husband dies.
  4. 00
    Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey (smc01)
    smc01: Although Sylvanus Now is set in the 1950s instead of in present day Newfoundland, the characters and setting and Newfoundland way-of-life are presented in a similar manner.

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» See also 216 mentions

English (38)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
This book languished in a stack on a to-be-read shelf for almost two years, squashed between a Julian Barnes below and some short story anthology above.
It was 31 years ago on Valentine's Day that the Ocean Ranger oil rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland, killing all aboard.
31 years later, on Valentine's Day yesterday, February won the Canada Reads award. (Oh crap, now the masses will like it, it will be popular, and more often than not that means the writing sucks, but jeez, it's Lisa Moore, she's a good writer. She has cred!) I kept putting it off, fearing the mawkishness that was sure to fill the pages of a book about a widow of one of the dead crewmen. But that's not how it turned out. This isn't about wallowing in grief and outrage. It rises above that. The narrative skips around in time, both directly and indirectly as memories and dreams. This seems ideal for this type of story, because the present is so pregnant with the past. Very slowly the widow Helen begins to weave the future into her existence.
The structure, the architecture were great, but what I enjoyed the most was Moore's expressive prose. The effortless hyper-realism of her descriptions brought it to life, and overarching it all were quiet wisdoms and simple but profound insights. Lovely.

( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Helen lost her husband in the sinking of an oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland in 1982. Following his death (along with 85 others in the disaster), she raised her four children alone, one born posthumously. The novel jumps back and forth in time from the story of Helen's early life with her husband Cal to the time of the disaster to the present when her children are grown. This is another book in which there is little coherent plot, and the events are simply presented as fragments of life. Perhaps I was expecting the book to be the compelling story of the oil rig disaster and its aftereffects, but in fact the way in which Helen's husband died had very little effect on the story. Usually lack of a plot, or novels presented as episodic fragments don't bother me, and I have enjoyed many novels written in this manner. However, this was another book that left me cold.

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Mar 11, 2016 |
On February 15 1982, the Ocean Ranger, an oil rig platform sunk off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is the story of Helen O'Mara whose husband Cal is one of the victims. Lisa Moore's story is about how Helen survives widowhood with 4 small children. It is very well written and beautifully portrays her struggles with finances, single parenthood, loneliness and hope. She is a very strong character who survives to witness the success of her children and the birth of grandchildren. She is haunted by how Cal died in the sinking and combs the official report to find clues. The book is full of hope, humour and life. Loved it. ( )
  MaggieFlo | Jan 10, 2016 |
This book drew me in. The subject was difficult but the writing was so well done, I persevered through the tough descriptions of when the Ocean Ranger goes down in the freezing waters off the coast of Newfoundland. The story goes back and forth to different times in the life of Helen the widow and her family. Recommended ( )
  janismack | May 30, 2015 |
I really liked this story. Ms. Moore gets deep inside her characters, deep, deep inside in a way I very much admire, and her writing style, both intensely personal and beautifully evocative sucked me in from the first page and didn't let me go. At the risk of sounding like a commercial I laughed, I cried, and I read parts out loud to my husband. ( )
  RhondaParrish | May 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Ik denk dat we de wereld zo ervaren. De hele dag door worden we overvallen door beelden, door herinneringen. Mijn eigen geheugen is niet gekoppeld aan tijd. Ik heb geen idee wanneer iets gebeurd is, maar ik weet nog wel precies hoe een stof voelde en welke kleuren die had. Ik denk op die manier, ik ervaar het zo, dus ik zou het moeilijk vinden niet op die manier te schrijven. In een opschrijfboekje schrijf ik de hele dag door hoe mensen bewegen, hoe het licht binnenvalt. Die observaties kunnen doorsijpelen in mijn romans. Soms kan ik euforisch beschrijven hoe iemand een vork opraapt, een andere keer beschrijf ik zeven keer dezelfde fruitschaal omdat ik het gevoel het dat ik het nog niet goed heb. Zoals iemand anders tekent of schildert. Ik wil in zo weinig mogelijk woorden iets beschrijven dat de lezer onmiddellijk herkent. Dat is voor mij de essentie van schrijven.’
added by PGCM | editVPRO Boeken, Katja de Bruin (Sep 6, 2010)
The novel's only real weakness is that this symbolic richness doesn't extend into the lives of its second-tier characters; Helen's three daughters, in particular, are only lightly sketched...The novel's ending, too, in which Helen finally slips the knot of her grief, seems suspiciously neat from afar. But these faults can be forgiven in the context of what Moore manages to pull off: a novel which takes a moment of catastrophe and focuses not on the moment itself but on all the moments that surround it; that are altered, subtly or dramatically, by it.
February is not plot-driven: the back-and-forth chronology is meant to flesh out emotional landscapes and fill in historical details. Although Moore writes with an almost brash economy, she cannot prevent February from coming off as an overly sentimental love story....Cal was the great and only love of Helen’s life, and she spends the 25 years after his death rather tediously reliving their time together and speculating about his final moments....would have worked as a short story – a genre at which Moore excels – but its impact is ultimately diluted by the novel’s amplitude.

Is Lisa Moore a Buddhist? The tragic subject matter of her latest novel fits...I must pause here to confess that I usually find this kind of writing irritating. Novels constructed of luminous images make me feel like a dump truck is slowly tipping a load of rose petals over me. Where's the narrative? Like these other novels, February disregards conventional plot. Its present-time story line is minimal...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, I think, the point of literature and maybe even the point of being human. For these 308 pages, I was Helen, grief-struck and in love with my husband, furious with him.

With February, she has created an incredibly empathetic character in Helen, whose protective shell is always on the brink of cracking, even if her words and actions belie her vulnerability.
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.


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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lisa Mooreprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kunkel-Razum, KathrinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my parents, Elizabeth and Leo Moore.
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Helen watches as the man touches the skate blade to the sharpener.
Helen had something they did not have, something they aspired to but could not name. They would have been mortified to learn it was experience. They did not want experience. Helen was sad and the young women didn’t understand the sadness but they respected it. A blow had been struck, bull’s-eye, without warning, and it had scarred Helen.
Helen did not take tranquilizers. Her children would never know it, but this was her approach to parenting: she was there for them. Her doctor had said pills, and she had said no. Helen was there, morning, noon, and night. That was her approach. She had wanted to die. She did not die.
Life barrels through; it is gone. Something rushes through. The front door slams and then a door slams in the back; something burns on the stove; birthdays, brides and caskets, babies, bankruptcy, huge strokes of luck, the trees full of ice; gone.
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Book description
On Valentine’s Day, 1982 the oil rig The Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland. 25 years later Helen O’Hara, the widow of one of the 84 men who died, thinks back on the disaster and about her relationship with her husband. Moore’s account is both unsentimental and deeply moving.
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"...Propelled by a local tragedy, in which an oil rig sinks in a violent storm off the coast of Newfoundland, 'February' follows the life of Helen O'Mara, widowed by the accident, as she continuously spirals from the present day back to that devastating and transformative winter that persists in her mind and heart..."--Front flap.… (more)

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