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The Whirlpool by Jane Urquhart

The Whirlpool

by Jane Urquhart

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174468,238 (3.8)26



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The book was alright. The writing was extremely well done, you wouldn't know it was the author's first novel based on the quality and style of writing. But I did find that the characters and the story itself fell a little flat for me.

All of the characters are rather eccentric, they all have their own struggles they are trying to deal with. And the author shows that throughout the book. There is no denying that the characters were well developed and written, but there was always something missing in this book, and I'm not sure what it was. Perhaps something to bring everything together better, but I just felt, I was missing something in the end.

There were a lot of themes in the book - it's the perfect book for a book club, and I'd still recommend it as a book to read.

Also found on my book review site Jules' Book Reviews - The Whirlpool ( )
  bookwormjules | Dec 1, 2012 |
This is one of those books that is probably above my "reading age". I like Urquhart's writing very much and found the story interesting despite my general lack of enthusiasm for 'historical' novels. However I'm not generally a big fan of poetry as I don't usually understand it. This story has a focus on poetry, and in particular on the poetry and life of Robert Browning. Quite a bit of the book seemed very mystical to me and I'd rather read something more concrete and down to earth. Nonetheless, Urquhart remains an author of interest and I have three more of her books on my TBR pile. ( )
  oldblack | Mar 14, 2012 |
This was Jane Urquhart's debut novel and I must say that if I had read this first I probably would not have gone on to read any more of her work (and would have missed out on a great read). Actually this is a haunting book. I continue to think about it so I do think it is a well written and intriguing look at life in late nineteenth century Canada.

In a small town just below Niagara Falls we follow the lives of four characters over a few months - there is the undertaker's widow who continues her husband's business; a military historian and his wife; and a government clerk who is staying at his uncle's farm. There is some connection between the characters but on the whole we follow their separate paths, even when they meet. So there was a very disconnected feel to the characters and there isn't really a coherent story. Thinking about it the disconnect can be perceived as a strength - the four characters whose stories are told are all very self absorbed with their own lives and even when interacting with others don't seem to see outside of their own interests.

In conclusion a beautifully written but slightly unsatisfying read. ( )
  calm | Feb 2, 2011 |
It's 1889 and this story's quirky Victorian characters are each caught up in their own obsessions; whether for a woman-from-a- distance, nature and poetry, war history, details of death-by the undertaker's widow, or Niagara Falls and the lives its whirpool claims. Robert Browning's last days in Venice are also present as brackets (first and last chapters) to the main story.
Rich language, fascinating historical details. Awarded the Best Foreign Book Award in France. Highly recommended.

I have read 5 of her other novels:

The Underpainter****
The Stone Carvers*****
A Map of Glass***** (my favourite)
Santuary Line***+

Jane Urquhart never disappoints ( )
  posthumose | Dec 8, 2007 |
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In December of 1889, as he was returning by gondola from the general vicinity of the Palazzo Manzoni, it occured to Robert Browning that he was more than likely going to die soon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 156792171X, Paperback)

Written in luminous prose, The Whirlpool is a haunting tale set in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the summer of 1889. This is the season of reckless river stunts, a time when the undertaker’s widow is busy with funerals, her days shadowed by her young son’s curious silence. Across the street in Kick’s Hotel, where Fleda and her husband, David McDougal, have temporary rooms, Fleda dreams of the place above the whirlpool where she first encountered the poet, a man who enters her life and, unwittingly, changes everything. As the summer progresses, the lives of these characters become entangled, and darker, more sinister currents gain momentum.

The Whirlpool, Jane Urquhart’s first novel, received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France and marked the brilliant debut of a major voice in Canadian fiction.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:25 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

It is the summer of 1889, and on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the undertaker's wife is busy, for this is the season of crazy stunts and frequent accidents. Across the street, in Kirk's Hotel, lives David McDougal, an obsessive military historian haunted by his past, and his wife, whose own dreams move to the sonorous rhythms of Browning's poetry and take shape in the woods beside a whirlpool. And it is here, in a glade below the falls, that she first encounters the poet Patrick, the man destined to change her life.… (more)

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