Book 12, The Whirlpool (1986) – Jane Urquart
From the back cover:
“First published in 1986, The Whirlpool is the story of Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the fateful summer of 1889.
Maud Grady, the undertaker’s widow, is busy with the summer season of crazy stunts and river casualties. Across the street live David McDougal, an obsessive military historian haunted by the revolutionary heroine Laura Secord, and his wife, Fleda, whose own dreams take shape in the woods above the whirlpool. 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.”
Other useful links:
the Wikipedia article on Jane Urquhart
the Wikipedia article on Niagara Falls, Ontario
the Wikipedia article on The Battle of Lundy’s Lane (War of 1812)
the Friends of the Lundy’s Lane Battlefield site
City of Niagara Falls Museums website
the Wikipedia article on Laura Secord
Urquhart’s writing reminded me quite a bit of Virgina Woolf’s (I’ve only read the latter’s Mrs Dalloway) and of Michael Cunningham’s in The Hours.
I’m not really sure what the bracketing sections concerning Robert Browning were all about. They seemed kind of out of place (and I often find it difficult to buy real historical people in works of fiction).
Of the main story, I enjoyed certain elements: the talk of Laura Secord, the whole process of what level of mourning attire was proper, the idea that it was the poet who could speak to the ‘autistic’ boy, the home in the wilderness by the whirlpool.
It just didn’t seem like a cohesive whole to me. Didn’t care too much for the ending.