Cape Breton Road : A Novel

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9780099289654: Cape Breton Road : A Novel

Innis Corbett, a young man born into a highlander community in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, left his native country as a child to live with his parents in Boston. Emotionally troubled by his father's death and his mother's weakness for men and drinking, Innis gets involved in a series of car thefts and is deported back to Canada which seems worse to him than going to prison.

Living with bachelor Uncle Starr in rural Cape Breton, a harsh yet beautiful place that has shaped his family and that absorbs and challenges him, Innis takes refuge in the wild, dense woods where he devises a plan to grow marijuana. This venture assuages his loneliness, giving him something to care for, a secret of his own. But, just as Innis is coming to terms with his situation, Claire, an attractive former flight attendant nearing forty, enters the Starr household and an entanglement begins that leads to suspicion, jealousy, and ultimately to an unpredictable climax.

An exceptional first novel of literary suspense by a writer with an unerring eye for landscape and tragedy bred in the bone.

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Review:

At the beginning of Cape Breton Road, D.R. MacDonald's 19-year-old protagonist finds himself deported from Boston, where he's stolen one too many cars. Innis is sent back to his native Nova Scotia--or more precisely, to remote Cape Breton Island. There he is exiled to the old family farmhouse to live with his reluctant uncle, whose penchant for booze and girls leaves little time for supervising an errant nephew. Not surprisingly, Innis at once looks for an escape. From time to time he hikes up into the hills, where he can plant his attic-nurtured marijuana seedlings far from prying eyes. Up in the woods he sets to work "with a pleasure no other task had matched, spacing the pots zigzag so they would look natural, like weeds, if someone did happen by, seduced, like him, by the light of a clearing."

The ice slowly melts, the sun bakes the earth, and Innis's seedlings flourish. He's also drawn into the community of old, Gaelic-speaking families, whose language and way of life may be melting with the snow, but whose sense of place gives them an inner knowledge no outsider could learn. Yet the forces of love and trust--as personified by his uncle's pretty, frivolous mistress, Claire--ultimately deal out devastation to the hero and those around him. Cape Breton Road has more than its share of suspense and erotic electricity. At the same time, however, it's an elegy to a fading way of life, and a portrait of landscape where nature is so fiercely uncompromising that it takes on a spectral, sinister force of its own. --Carey Green

Book Description:

Published in hardcover by Harcourt, 2001, 0-15-100523-0

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