The Order of Good Cheer

The Order of Good Cheer

A Novel

Book - 2008
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"In alternating narratives, Gaston tells two powerfull stories separated by the breadth of a continent and exactly 400 years. In one, Samuel de Champlain and his seventeenth-century companions struggle to establish a toehold on foreign soil. In the other, twenty-first century blue-collar worker Andy Winslow and his friends try not to lose their hold on a more urban landscape, despite encroaching environmental and economic disaster. By telling their stories separately but side-by-side, Gaston shows us how both groups share a hauntingly similar sense of the fragility, grandeur, tedium, and ironies of life in a land that is both home and alien."-Inside front jacket.
Publisher: Toronto : Anansi, 2008
ISBN: 9780887842009
0887842003
Characteristics: 391 p. ; 22 cm

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melwyk May 01, 2012

It's set partially in modern-day Prince Rupert, a small town in Northern B.C., and partially in Nova Scotia in 1606/1607. In this era, Champlain and his compatriots were trying to create a settlement in the new world for France. Champlain is the main character, sort of, in his part of the book. To counteract the boredom and bad feelings and fear of disease, he decides that the best route is to party. He creates the Order of Good Cheer (this is based in historical fact) and each night a different person is responsible for creating entertainment. This gets them through the dark days despite difficulty and despair.

Meanwhile, in present day B.C., Andy is having a bit of a midlife crisis. Never married, he has remained in his hometown and works at the local mill, a job that both pays well and allows him hours of reading time. Andy is currently reading Champlain's memoirs, and is inspired to cheer up everyone and create a gathering which encompasses all the characters we've met throughout his story.

I appreciated the struggle of these two men to make sense of their lives and surroundings, their determination to make the best of things and do something to improve morale in their own circles. Each person in the story had their own particular life, their own particular struggles, but coming together in community made a difference to them. And I think that that idea is still a good one, and a useful one, as we all face our own difficulties. This book was altogether an unexpected find and a serendipitous one. I thought it was a great read.

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