The sentimentalists : a novel /
Johanna Skibsrud.
edition
1st American ed.
imprint
New York : W. W. Norton & Co., 2011, c2009.
description
208 p.
ISBN
9780393082517 (hardcover)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : W. W. Norton & Co., 2011, c2009.
isbn
9780393082517 (hardcover)
catalogue key
7356349
 
Purchase; DSO; 2011; RB292583.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Libris Awards, CAN, 2011 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-03-07:
Montreal poet Skibsrud's first novel, the dark horse winner of Canada's 2011 Giller Prize, is an intricate story about the crushing power of experience. As elderly, alcoholic Napoleon is being moved from his home in Fargo, N.D., to that of widowed family friend Henry Carey in Casablanca, Ontario, the unnamed narrator, one of Napoleon's two daughters, recalls time spent throughout her life in the Carey home and the strange story of her father, whose life fell apart after he returned from Vietnam. The story moves from the narrator's childhood; Napoleon's pivotal wartime service with Henry's son, Owen; and Napoleon's abandoning of his family, which crushed the narrator and her sister. Poetic ruminations are frequent but not oppressive, and provide uncommon perspectives on the characters: Napoleon's deathbed confessions "opened a seam through which the rest of the world now burst"; the narrator realizes, at her sick father's side, that her "own sadness seemed, at those times, to draw itself in-a complete and separate object-so that it seemed to have nothing to do with me anymore." Skibsrud's assured prose and graceful wordplay elevate this delicately structured story of redemption and forgiveness, and her storytelling is so refined and subtle that the punch at the end, while fully anticipated, still has a leveling power. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-05-15:
First novelist Skibsrud takes a poignant look at family, focusing mainly on Napoleon Haskell, his adult daughter, and Henry, father to a young man Napoleon served with in Vietnam. These three live in Henry's house in Canada as a sort of makeshift family. When Napoleon's daughter first comes to live with him and Henry after a relationship ends badly, she finds out much more about the father she hardly knew while growing up. And she begins to understand who Henry is and why he has a connection to her own family. She also learns that her father's alcoholism is much more progressed than she'd originally thought. And she begins to figure out the identity of the mysterious Owen, Henry's son, and why Henry feels indebted to her father because of him. With flashbacks to Vietnam and heartfelt recollections of the daughter's own childhood, the narrative shows Napoleon slowly letting his daughter in on deep secrets of his life. VERDICT A quick and satisfying read; recommended for most public libraries and reading groups that have an interest in books about familial relationships.-Leann Restaino, Girard, OH (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"a solid debut and a beautiful tribute to a father-daughter relationship."
I read it twice, and it "s amazing even the second time, and I think it would be even more amazing the third time. She "s a tremendous stylist.
I read it twice, and it's amazing even the second time, and I think it would be even more amazing the third time. She's a tremendous stylist.
Skibsrud knows what she's doing: The slow fuse of the novel's first half turns out to be a very effective setup for the explosive second.
The writing here is trip-wire taut as the exploration of guilt, family and duty unfolds.
[An] intricate story about the crushing power of experience Skibsrud "s assured prose and graceful wordplay elevate this delicately structured story of redemption and forgiveness, and her storytelling is so refined and subtle that the punch at the end, while fully anticipated, still has a leveling power.
[An] intricate story about the crushing power of experience…Skibsrud's assured prose and graceful wordplay elevate this delicately structured story of redemption and forgiveness, and her storytelling is so refined and subtle that the punch at the end, while fully anticipated, still has a leveling power.
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 2011
Guardian UK, April 2011
Booklist, May 2011
Library Journal, May 2011
New York Times Book Review, July 2011
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Haunted by the vivid horrors of the Vietnam War, exhausted from years spent battling his memories, Napoleon Haskell leaves his North Dakota trailer and moves to Canada. He retreats to a small Ontario town where Henry, the father of his fallen Vietnam comrade, has a home on the shore of a man-made lake. Under the water is the wreckage of what was once the town - and the home where Henry was raised. When Napoleon's daughter arrives, fleeing troubles of her own, she finds her father in the dark twilight of his life, and rapidly slipping into senility. With love and insatiable curiosity, she devotes herself to learning the truth about his life; and through the fog, Napoleon's past begins to emerge. Lyrical and riveting, The Sentimentalists is a story of what lies beneath the surface of everyday life, and of the commanding power of the past. Johanna Skibsrud's first novel marks the debut of a powerful new voice in Canadian fiction.

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