Based on a real event, a 1982 oil-rig sinking in a storm off the coast of Newfoundland, which killed 84 men, the novel is set in the present (November 2008). The story revolves around Helen O’Mara, pregnant and already the mother of three when she loses her husband Cal in that disaster. The narrative see-saws between the present as she prepares for another kind of transformative event and the various dates in the 30 years she has lived outsideHelen’s description of her existential status in her widowhood. In fact, as we see through numerous flashbacks, she has not disengaged from her relationship with her dead husbandsomething she has stoically kept hidden from her children and older sister.
Moore is a masterful prose artist and her descriptions of St. John’s, the old waterfront houses, her children’s foibles, the carpenter renovating her house, and the places her son John has visitedIceland and Tasmaniaare vivid and immediate. And most of all, Helen’s widowhood as told from the inside, is made resonant and palpable.
R.I.P. Barry Hannah.