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February [Paperback]

Lisa Moore
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 11.92 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 Jan 2010

In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland during a Valentine's night storm. In the early hours of the next morning, all 84 men aboard died.

Helen O'Mara is one of those left behind when her husband, Cal, drowns. Her story starts years after the Ranger disaster, but she is compelled to travel back to the 'February' that persists in her mind, and to that moment in 1982 when, expecting a fourth child, she received the call informing her that Cal was lost at sea.

A quarter of a century on, late one winter's night, Helen is woken by another phone call. It is her wayward son John, in another time zone, on his way home. He has made a girl pregnant and he wants Helen to decide what he should do. As John grapples with what it might mean to be a father, Helen realises that she must shake off her decades of mourning in order to help.

With grace and precision, and a shocking ability to render the precise details of her characters' physical and emotional worlds, Lisa Moore reveals the whole story to us. And just as, finally, we watch the oil rig go down, we see Helen emerging from her grief to greet a new life.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (28 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701184906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701184902
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 459,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Lisa Moore's work is passionate, gritty, lucid and beautiful. She has a great gift. (Anne Enright)

An astonishing writer. She brings to her pages what we are always seeking in fiction and only find in the best of it: a magnetizing gift for revealing how the earth feels, looks, tastes, smells, and an unswerving instinct for what's important in life. (Richard Ford)

A tragedy at sea, a miracle on paper...Moore offers us, elegantly, exultantly, the very consciousness of her characters. In this way, she does more than make us feel for them. She makes us feel what they feel, which is the point of literature and maybe even the point of being human. (Globe and Mail 2009-06-09)

A marvellous book (Winnipeg Free Press 2009-06-09)

Book Description

From the publishers of Mary Lawson and Alice Munro, a moving and masterful novel by 'an astonishing writer' (Richard Ford)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, poised narrative 5 Sep 2010
Lisa Moore is a subtle writer, building up her picture of long-term bereavement and gradual recovery grain by grain, which draws in the reader to a wholly realised world, across thirty years of a woman's life.

Apart from the meticulously realised retelling of the (true) loss of all hands on a floating oil platform in the North Atlantic on 14 February 1982, there is not a vast amount of plot. But this isn't a shallow thriller, and plot is not Moore's main interest. Rather, she is interested in revealing depths and subtleties of character through the little (or major) incidents of their lives, overshadowed by the disaster. She does so in a non-linear fashion, like a conversation where people reminisce up and down through the well of time.

Individual chapters, particularly towards the end, would stand out as short stories in their own right, and Moore is not averse to introducing characters for single episodes, taking as much care to bring them to life as with the central half-dozen family members. However, the reader becomes especially close to Helen, and to her son John, the two very different individuals who dominate the narrative.

Of all the 2010 long-listed Booker novels, this is the only one which I found personally moving, as the accumulation of detail, especially of the minutiae of loss, becomes overwhelming across 300 pages. The pace never drags, and the characters remain true and fresh to the end. A very satisfying read - and a life-affirming book which surely deserves to win the Booker.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From raging sea to inner calm 25 Feb 2011
Reviewers seem to be split on this one, but I'm firmly in the `pro' camp. One critic complains of getting lost in the back-and-forth in time that structures the book, yet every chapter heading makes it clear what time we're in. Another says the whole idea of a novel based around a real-life Newfoundland oil-rig disaster three decades ago is a dubious waste of time. Eh?

What Lisa Moore does is to anatomise grief, and methods of coping (or not coping) with it, by incrementally fleshing out the life, thoughts and emotional responses of the main character, widowed Helen, and to a lesser extent her son and daughters. John has discovered that a holiday fling has led to the prospect of a child he hadn't contemplated and may not want. Helen, by contrast, has had snatched away from her the husband she very much wanted to hold on to for ever.

This book could have been dull, or maudlin or just plain irritating, but it never is. Instead it's quiet, thoughtful and redemptive. Time and again I found myself thinking, Yes, that's just right. If you like books like The Shipping News, or anything by Alice Munro, this is for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tentative explorarion of death and birth 6 Mar 2011
I enjoyed this, though at times got a little fed up of the multi-point narrative. Moore's writing is tentative, she does not pretend to know what her characters think and feel, often suggesting a string of possibilities. I found it interesting that it is in part the story of the romance of an older lady, but a shame that Moore skims over this, in this the end felt rushed.

The book follows, among other things the story of a birth and of a death. The death is Helen's, the 54 year old grandmother protagonists, husband Cal, on the Ocean Ranger disaster. The birth is of the accidental child of her oldest child John. The blurb suggests that John grapples with what to do about the impending birth, the grappling wasn't too evident.

Moore writes in beautiful, short chapters, which are rich in imagery and place. I imagine that Newfoundland is well captured, but I've never been there. I wondered if Moore had ever been to England, as at one point Helen sits on a coach between Stanstead and Heathrow and rhapsodises about the 'stonewalls and sheep', the Englishness of the countryside.......its sounds more like she is in Yorkshire than near London!

I found it enjoyable, as I have said, and a great book to read on the bus. I did not find it terribly memorable. Its the sort of book I like to take on holiday.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An in depth look at love and bereavement 11 Aug 2011
This is not a genre I would normally read, but as it was longlisted for the Orange Prize I decided to try it. Set in Canada, this book is about a woman whose husband's life is lost on a floating oil platform in the North Sea. This happened in 1982 - a true fact.

It tells of a woman's long term bereavement and how every part of her life is shadowed by her loss. It is beautifully written - thoughts and emotions are vividly described.

On the negative side, I found the dateline confusing and felt that there was not enough substance in the book for my taste.

I would not want to read this book if I were recently bereaved.....it would be too upsetting.

I do not think this book is a worthy entrant for the Orange Prize.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing 6 Feb 2011
By Geoff W
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After reading good reviews I bought this on Kindle.
Quite frankly I was glad to be able to 'turn the pages over' quickly.
The plot could have been summarised in one page. A disaster in the past followed by a very ordinary life of reminiscing is padded out by zigzagging back and forward in time. The structure is delineated by dates and places at the beginning of each of the short chapters which lead to a predictable conclusion. The use of the present tense irritated me, and the characters were over described as they could not develop in the non linear telling. Not for me. I cannot understand how it was Booker Prize long list.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars jumps about
I didn't like her style and couldn't get into it so I have still not finished it, we had it for book club and there were mixed reviews
Published 12 months ago by Angela Miriam Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely fluid read
This is a bittersweet portrait of a simple woman who lives her life through her children and a love taken from her. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that steadily grows on you
I didn't think I would persevere with this book. The writing style and movements back and forth in time didn't grab me for a while. Read more
Published on 16 July 2011 by Lisa
4.0 out of 5 stars very readable and gives insight
I enjoyed February, and while I don't think it should have been a Booker Prize Winner, it was certainly better than the winner and most of the other shortlisted books of 2010. Read more
Published on 25 Feb 2011 by SH
3.0 out of 5 stars February
In 1982, the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland. All 84 men aboard died. Clearly this wasn't tragedy enough for Lisa Moore, whose novel 'February' is a... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by TomCat
3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed
I'm still not entirely sure what I thought or felt about this one. The blurb really tells you the full story, the only unexpected element was the way the story was told. Read more
Published on 7 Aug 2010 by Welsh Annie
5.0 out of 5 stars February
The author writes in an immediate way though we move between the past and the present. The voice of the main Character rings true, and the sense of location is strong. Read more
Published on 14 Mar 2010 by Liz
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