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Rockbound (1928)

by Frank Parker Day

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2321295,461 (3.8)12
To the harsh domain of Rockbound -- governed by the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung --comes the youthful David Jung to claim his small share of the island. Filled with dreamy optimism and a love for the unspoken promises of the night sky, David

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My maternal grandfather was in his late teens when a woman – a teacher I imagine – taught him the sounds of letters. He then taught himself to read and write. I don’t know many details of this story, as it didn’t seem necessary to keep the details from generation to generation. But when I read about David approaching the one room school teacher Mary about learning how to read, I could not stop thinking of my own grandfather.

Here is the passage that follows, when David is sitting at his kitchen table trying to make sense of the letters:

These crooked lines were mysterious to him; he felt as if he was learning magic. He wondered what great man had invented them. “Perhaps,” he thought, “dey was a gift o’ God to men, an’ t’rough dem I kin find out somethin’ good.” .

Now, about the book… I did like it, but after this line I would had liked anything the author wrote.

Then, about my grandfather, all of his daughters became teachers; one actually went back to school in her 40’s to become a lawyer. Among his grandkids there are 3 lawyers, a dentist, a civil engineer, a nutritionist, a computer analyst, and a business major. And all of his great-grandchildren of the right age are now attending university.
( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
Such a lovely book! Really should be a classic, and I'm glad it was resurrected by U of T and Canada Reads. It follows a basic plot structure, one main likeable protagonist, some not completely evil 'villains,' drama and a bit of romance. Actually, literarily (Shakespearean) speaking, it is a romance because the devil intercedes at one point.
David is a young man with a good work ethic who strives to reclaim his land on a island, Rockbound. There are two feuding families on the island and a local lighthouse. The dialogue is written in dialect, which makes the characters so much more real.
(small spoiler alert)
I just really enjoyed it -- David perseveres and nothing absolutely horrible happens to him, the ending is "happy" (which I normally hate) and loose ends are nicely tied up. It's just a cute little story. ( )
  LDVoorberg | Dec 3, 2017 |
Initially it took me a few pages to get into the dialect. After that I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable read taking one into the harsh life of an east cost fisherman and his struggle to create a his place in this world. Definitely a goodread for this struggling author. ( )
  paulhock | Oct 17, 2017 |
I love CanLit. It's one of my favourite genres, and I am so proud of our numerous very talented authors in this country. This book is a classic and a fitting winner of the Canada Reads award. The book was written in 1928 by Frank Parker Day, who was born in Nova Scotia. He was schooled in Oxford and in Berlin and came back to North America at the beginning of the Great War. He taught in the States for a while, but came back to Cape Breton to live out the rest of his life. All of Day's experiences with Canadians and the extremely brutal life of Canadian fishermen are honestly and empathicaly portrayed in this dark and savage novel. Yet even in the darkness and within the unrelenting work of the people who live on Rockbound island, we see human warmth, compassion and even love. The colloquialisms and the speech patterns from this era, which is pre-WWI, are true to form. They do make for some difficulty following conversations between characters, but I found if I took the time, I could easily figure them out. For example sentences like "Nair a one o' de Rockbound Jungs could do dat." are peppered throughout the book. This speech pattern makes the story more realistic then normal sentences and words would. Life on Rockbound is hard. It's a small island in the Atlantic which is isolated for many months of the year either due to bad storms or winter ice. The people on Rockbound are farmers and fishermen and they all pitch in and work very hard in order to keep food on the table and the wolf from the door. Rockbound breeds a strong, resilient people who will meet any challenge head on. The story and the people of Rockbound will remain with me for a long time. This is a well-deserved winner of the Canada Reads prize. I have always loved stories of the sea and of sea tragedies. The true people of the sea are brave, resourceful and very philosophic about life and death. That comes through very strongly in this book. ( )
  Romonko | Aug 18, 2016 |
originally published in 1928, 'rockbound' never made much of a splash with book sales, but the novel crops up in CanLit courses across the country. in 2005, the novel was included in Canada Reads - and ended up winning. this was cool because it brought a whole new audience to the book!

set on an island off nova scotia's south shore, the story well depicts the hardships of rural and fishing life, and the challenges of a community almost completely connected as family. the settings are evocative and the characters are interesting. this book is an important part of the canadian canon, and representative of one sort of an Atlantic way of life. but (sorry!), i just didn't find much emotion in the story (for all of the very emotional situations that occurred). it felt a bit simplistic at times, and was too tidy at the end.

i am glad i finally had a chance to read this book. i wish i liked it a lot more than i did (to clarify: i liked it. i didn't love it). ( )
  JooniperD | Jun 6, 2016 |
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To the harsh domain of Rockbound -- governed by the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung --comes the youthful David Jung to claim his small share of the island. Filled with dreamy optimism and a love for the unspoken promises of the night sky, David

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Average: (3.8)
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