colony of unrequited dreams

colony of unrequited dreams In Joseph Smallwood became the first premier of the newly federated Canadian province of Newfoundland Predictably and almost immediately his name retreated to the footnotes of history And yet

  • Title: colony of unrequited dreams
  • Author: Wayne Johnston
  • ISBN: 9781862300637
  • Page: 290
  • Format: Paperback
  • In 1949, Joseph Smallwood became the first premier of the newly federated Canadian province of Newfoundland Predictably, and almost immediately, his name retreated to the footnotes of history And yet, as Wayne Johnston makes plain in his epic and affectionate fifth novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Smallwood s life was endearingly emblematic, an instance of an extrIn 1949, Joseph Smallwood became the first premier of the newly federated Canadian province of Newfoundland Predictably, and almost immediately, his name retreated to the footnotes of history And yet, as Wayne Johnston makes plain in his epic and affectionate fifth novel, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Smallwood s life was endearingly emblematic, an instance of an extraordinary man emerging at a propitious moment The particular charm of Johnston s book, however, lies not merely in unveiling a career that so seamlessly coincided with the burgeoning self consciousness of Newfoundland itself, but in exposing a simple truth namely, that history is no than the accretion of lived lives Born into debilitating poverty, Smallwood is sustained by a bottomless faith in his own industry His unabashed ambition is to rise not from rags to riches, but from obscurity to world renown To this end, he undertakes tasks both sublime and baffling walking 700 miles along a Newfoundland railroad line in a self martyring union drive narrating a homespun radio spot and endlessly irritating and ingratiating himself with the Newfoundland political machine His opaque and constant incitement is an unconsummated love for his childhood friend, Sheilagh Fielding Headstrong and dissolute, she weaves in and out of Smallwood s life like a salaried goad, alternately frustrating and illuminating his ambitions Smallwood is harried as well by Newfoundland s subtle gravity, a sense that he can never escape the tug of his native land, since his only certainty is the island itself that massive assertion of land, sea s end, the outer limit of all the water in the world, a great, looming, sky obliterating chunk of rock The Colony of Unrequited Dreams bogs down after a time in its detailing of Smallwood s many political intrigues and in the lingering matter of a mysterious letter supposedly written by Fielding However, when he speculates on the secret motives of his peers, or when he reveals his own hyperbolic fantasies and grandiose hopes matters no one would ever confess aloud the novel is both apt and amiable Best of all is to watch Smallwood s inevitable progress toward a practical cynicism It seems nothing less than miraculous that his countless disappointments pave the way for his ascension, that his private travails ultimately align with the land he loves This is history resuscitated Ben Guterson

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      Published :2018-09-05T18:07:14+00:00

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    1. ““Newfoundland,” I told them one night, “will be one of the great small nations of the earth, a self-governing, self-supporting, self-defending, self-reliant nation, and I will be prime minister of Newfoundland.””"The Colony of Unrequited Dreams" is a fictional account of the life of Joey Smallwood (1900-1991), who was the first Premier of Newfoundland and who was instrumental in bringing Newfoundland into the Canadian confederation. How much is fact or fiction I cannot tell, but I [...]

    2. The embarrassing admission is that I am American. Why do I say that? Well, there are two answers. The first is that because I am American, I don't think I've ever seen a copy of this book during all my years of working in bookstores. I found it recently and I've heard people talking about it recently, so I thought it was a new book. Guys, this book has been on the planet since the late 90s. It hit bookshelves before I was working in bookstores, and I can say I never saw at the library I worked i [...]

    3. "We are a people in whose bodies old sea-seeking rivers roar with blood."I had The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams on my Canada reading list. To be fair, the book was not high up on the list as my knowledge of and interest in Newfoundland was pretty non-existent. If I say my interest in Newfoundland was pretty low, imagine how eager I would have been to read a fictionalised biography of Joseph Smallwood, Newfoundland's first Premier and the politician to lead the Dominion of Newfoundland into the co [...]

    4. Really 3.5. For no reason my reading travels have taken me to many cold and desolate climates over the last year. It began in Iceland with Burial Rites. I visited Greenland in the unfinished This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland a follow-up to the The Voyage of the Narwhal in a which a fictional crew sets out in hopes of discovering what happened to John Franklin’s lost expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. I just finished this, a history of Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland’s fir [...]

    5. The best work of historical fiction I have read in a long time. Based on history - that of Newfoundland's entry into Confederation and the architect of that event - Newfoundland's first premier, Joey Smallwood, this is still very much a work of fiction. I'm not sure how much of the Smallwood we read about is real, but he is certainly an engaging, complex and well developed character. His longtime friend/love/nemesis, Sheilagh Fielding is one of my favorite female characters of all time and I'm s [...]

    6. Seemed a bit derivative of Howard Norman (Sheilagh Fielding is a close sister to Margaret Handle in The Bird Artist, which was published a few years earlier). Although the writing is good—the author excels at description and character develpment—the story somehow doesn’t seem to justify the length (500-plus pages). That said, the interwoven pages from Fielding’s history of Newfoundland are an interesting device. Without them, there’d be less of a sense of place, which is essential for [...]

    7. While reading The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, and especially upon finishing it, I needed to know just how historically accurate the narrative was -- the Joey Smallwood of the book fit more or less with the bits I know about the actual first Premier of Newfoundland, but if the acid-penned, hilariously ironic Sheilagh Fielding did exist, I wanted to learn more about her. A google search led to this essay by the author, Wayne Johnston, and the following revelation:The Colony of Unrequited Dreams i [...]

    8. I'm reviewing this novel with much trepidation and caution. My copy is signed by Mr. Johnston who I met at a reading this past November for his latest novel. He's a nice man and a great reader. He could be a stand-up comic, very dry, very patient with his story telling, and has a very good understanding of story at that. My caution comes from my own writing about Newfoundland, and I have to be very cautious for I am a Mainlander, not a native son. I have a sense of what Newfoundland is about. I' [...]

    9. I am typically a harsh critic of historical fiction (a crude subject heading that allows for the inclusion of fictionalized history) so it was both surprising and enchanting to discover in Wayne Johnston's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams a beautiful story tucked into a bed of "real" events and people. For those easily side-tracked by history, for those that read primarily to "better themselves," beware the temptation to think this is the story of Joey Smallwood just because he is the first-perso [...]

    10. I loved this book. It was enthralling and informative, well written and funny. I know very little about the history of Newfoundland, it's the other end of the country and to be honest, from a cultural point of view, BC has more in common with Washington, Oregon and California than with the rest of Canada and I seldom think about what goes on out East. While I realize much of this book is fictional, including one of the main characters, it fills in some very basic "how life was" in Newfoundland b [...]

    11. The history of Newfoundland is not a subject I would ever think I would enjoy learning about. This brilliantly written book manages to sum up the history of that island in a truly fascinating way. I never felt like this book was dragging, even though it is very large and stuffed to the brim with information, facts, and observations. By following the life of the future first premier of the country, Wayne Johnston reels his readers in. Joe Smallwood is like the little engine that could, he just ke [...]

    12. This book was highly recommended to me so I started with high expectations. But no matter how hard I tried, I could never really get into it. I should have abandoned it after a while but I kept reading through it, which took me a while to end it. It's not that it is a bad book or anything. It is well written with great vocabulary. But it's the whole tone to it I felt like the author wanted to write about Newfoundland itself and the book was just a pretence to get to do that. Half formal history [...]

    13. I laughed, I gasped, I almost cried. Some books are like that. There are those that would have cheered for the storm to finish him off, but what a story we would have lost. Very much five stars.

    14. As Hollywood forgot long ago, romance, terror, and wit are produced by restraint, not excess. What better place to test that rule than Newfoundland, whose ferocious weather inspires a great deal of restraint, indeed. The setting for Wayne Johnston's spectacular new novel, "The Colony of Unrequited Dreams," sometimes slows love and hate to glacial speed, but that only emphasizes the land's awesome power.Johnston's epic tells the fictionalized life of Newfoundland's first premier, Joe Smallwood. B [...]

    15. I have had something of an interest in Newfoundland ever since an all-too-brief visit to The Rock back in the nineties, when I was bowled over by the landscapes and people. "The Colony of Unrequited Dreams" is a fictionalised biography of the life of Joey Smallwood, former premier of the Province and the man widely seen as the architect of its union with Canada in 1949. This novel is no plodding history-as-drama though. Smallwood is portrayed (perhaps accurately?)as a driven, ambitious character [...]

    16. This title fit the book very well.I enjoyed the characters very much and felt that Fielding was essential to the story. I loved the layers of irony and the demonstrations of things simply stated. Eg. Smallwood said he was not a good father or husband and then throughout the book you realize how little the wife and children play a part its incredibly demonstrative of how poor he is at those roles.One of the highlights of the novel is a series of brief interpolated chapters under the rubric of "Fi [...]

    17. This should have been a fabulous book. And parts of it were - mostly the language. I think Wayne Johnston did a wonderful job of evoking the tone and timbre of the time he's writing about. He also has a remarkable job of creating his two main characters - both Smallwood and Fielding are quirky and smart and a little irritating, with very distinct voices. Actually, I did love Fielding. She's feisty. Unfortunately, the story focuses on Smallwood, who (as thoroughly imagined as he is) feels pedanti [...]

    18. This was the most fun I can ever remember having with Canadian history. I was fascinated by the characters' personal lives, and very interested in the development of Newfoundland as a country before it entered Confederation. I wish it could have been written from the point of view of Sheilagh Fielding, who I found much more interesting than Joey Smallwood. Smallwood's naked ambition was almost his only character trait. But I guess Johnston might not have been able to include as much detail in hi [...]

    19. The book starts with a bang but ends not even with a whimper. The early years of Joey Smallwood are well imagined; he is a real person. Once he gets married and devotes his life to socialist utopia for Newfoundland, the story falls apart. He becomes a stiff historical figure and his story loses its dramatic tension as it is engulfed in regional and federal politics. His imaginary love affair with the odd Ms Fielding is thoroughly unconvincing.Historical fiction is one of the hardest genres to wr [...]

    20. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is at its heart a book about Newfoundland. Johnston creates a fictionalized version of Joey Smallwood, a real Canadian labor organizer and politician, to tell this story of the province during the 20th century. Like Robertson Davies (my gateway into Canadian literature), Johnston finds a really nice balance between wit and depth that I like a lot. Thanks to Keith for the recommendation!

    21. I had high hopes for this book going into it and it did deliver initially. Gorgeous writing and an intriguing storyline (at the outset) kept me going. But after page 350 or so, I just couldn't do it anymore. When it started getting into the whole confederation drama, I was just too tired to get into it. Significant skimming occurred at that point. I did finish -- I just couldn't outright quit after going so far.

    22. Where to start? This was a very long book that took a lot of motivation to pick up off my shelf, but that I ended up having a lot of opinions about. I was worried that it was going to be really dense, but fortunately, it turned out to be a very well written and engaging book about Newfoundland. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is historical fiction about Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland's first premier who helped to usher Newfoundland into confederation with Canada. He is both a well liked and dislik [...]

    23. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne JohnstonWayne Johnston is a wonderful writer. I read "The Navigator Of New York" a few years ago and found the same excellent reading this time. These books aren't the sort you just have to keep reading to see what happens next. I had no problem setting this one aside to read our Book Club selection then picking it up where I had left off. That doesn't sound like much of a recommendation but a sizzling plot isn't everything. These books have good stories, [...]

    24. There are two main plot lines in this grand historical fiction: one is the wacky lifelong relationship between two friends - Joey Smallwood and Sheilagh Fielding; the second is the story of Newfoundland's slow and awkward march towards Confederation with Canada after years of mistreatment by the British. Newfoundland is a cold, barren and challenging land with few resources, populated by a warm and friendly people who despite the odds did their best over the years to eek out a living from its po [...]

    25. It would be wrong for me to rate this novel. It is wonderfully written and the story is deeply engaging. I am sure that if I could finish it, it would be a 4 star read. But as a historical novel, it leaves me always asking the question "is this true?" or "Did that really happen?" and I just can't get past it. I am sure that what looks like fact most probably is, but the fictional character of Fielding is such a presence that I am able to appreciate neither the facts nor the fiction. I've read 32 [...]

    26. i finished this novel a few days ago but, so far, i haven't been able to consolidate my thoughts vey well. so this 'review' may be a bit of a mess - sorry!johnston is a great writer - his prose is lovely, funny and smart, and his eye seems to come at things from a slightly off-centre slant. i loved (LOVED!) the character of fielding. so much so, at moments i kept wishing this novel was all about her. johnston did a great job weaving the history into his story. i very much appreciated the feel fo [...]

    27. This is a fictionalized biography of famed Newfoundland politician Joey Smallwood's early days from childhood up to his early days as Premier of Newfoundland after his campaign to bring it into Canada in 1949. There are two main characters, Smallwood and Shelagh Fielding, a girl he met in the schoolyard and with whom he had a running on again off again friendship. Although they never had a romantic relationship, he did love her after a fashion and she probably loved him. It's portrayed as a long [...]

    28. I've never been to Newfoundland, couldn't find it on a map. I'm half-way through this huge book and have no desire whatsoever to go there. I have no clue how this tome ended up in my bookcase. It must weigh six pounds. It took up a lot of space so I decided to read it to clear the shelf.Fabulous, fabulous. I want to be Fielding. I want to buy boots for Joe. I want to vote two or three times in some local election. The bitterness of their lives is buried under hope, love, loyalty, confusion, dedi [...]

    29. I love Newfoundland, but with it's hostile weather sometimes I wonder how ANY Newfoundlanders are left*. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams frames the life of Joey Smallwood as a long (SO LONG), detailed metaphor of Newfoundland history and the historic struggles of that charming and weird rock in the North Sea.This book took me a long time to read but it was never boring and, weirdly, I want to learn more about Smallwood's real life and motivations. I'm interested in doing a deep dive into Johnsto [...]

    30. See message 48 of the Netherlands & Flanders group Autumn Challenge 2014 for a review in Dutch.As I knew next to nothing about Newfoundland's history, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams was a very interesting book to read. In it, Wayne Johnston manages to weave facts (the life of Joe Smallwood) and fiction (the life of Sheilagh Fielding) together in a very convincing manner. In many ways a true eye-opener when it comes to Newfoundland. My present 'Canada experience' is limited to Alberta and Br [...]

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