Other reviews swing wildy between perfect 5 and damning 1. I'll settle for a contented 4. Only because it took a while to get into the book. Believe me: it's worth it.
Agree that it's hard to sympathise with Quoyle (our, um, hero) in the early chapters. Not the heroic type at all... wounded by his father's totally undisguised favouritism towards his spiteful brother. Overweight and ugly. Lacking self confidence, self control... Nor the clichéd anti-establishment anti-hero. In fact dull, dull, dull......
But hang on. Isn't this every man? Who among us is perfect in mind and body? Fat and unsure of ourselves. Tall, gangly and introspective. Tough on the outside, vulnerable and drawn towards self-destructive behaviour on the quiet.
That's how the book draws you slowly in. Characters may have improbably names, but they're more real than most perfect size 8, gym-toned fiction you'll ever read.
The small kids are drawn so well. Such a rarity in an adult novel.
The island and the sea are characters in themselves. Newfoundland, its inlets and offshore islands, abandoned settlements, pragmatic architecture. Punished by - and yet so dependent on - the sea, like the cruel parents that seem to crop up all too often in the book. Buffeted even more by wavering subsidy from remote government that really cannot see through the fog to get a proper picture of life on the the Rock. By the vagiaries of globalisation....
Sounds depressing. But ultimately a redemptive, quiet, gorgeously imperfect celebration of community and finding the inner strength to accept yourself, for all your flaws and the stuff you found it hard to deal with. I'll read it again and again.