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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The earth moved
Better reviewers than I have given chapter and verse on this book. I can only tell you that I have come late in life to Richard Ford and feel as if I have struck oil.

Canada has made a greater impression on me than probably any book since We Need to Talk About Kevin, and yet they are so different. Canada doesn't shock; indeed I find it hard to explain what it...
Published 21 months ago by Penelope Simpson

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I really didn't enjoy it
After reading it and made up my mind that I really didn't much like it I read the reviews on Amazon and unfortunately, I am not in agreement with them. I lost concentration quite often and obviously lost the plot. Why was the boy so complacent and accept everything and why did they harp on so much about his mother being Jewish. I have to admit I didn't really...
Published 3 months ago by D. Parker


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The earth moved, 28 Oct 2012
By 
Penelope Simpson "penny simpson" (dorset, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canada (Paperback)
Better reviewers than I have given chapter and verse on this book. I can only tell you that I have come late in life to Richard Ford and feel as if I have struck oil.

Canada has made a greater impression on me than probably any book since We Need to Talk About Kevin, and yet they are so different. Canada doesn't shock; indeed I find it hard to explain what it does do other than to tell would-be readers that it has a hynoptic quality that means you never want it to end, even as you sit up nights devouring each page. The writing style is modest, the plot minimal, some of the characters a tad fantastic, but the sum is so much more than the total of the parts. I love this book, I love Richard Ford and I love the thought that I now have his entire back catalogue to look forward to. Life is sweet.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars benign malevolence writ large., 15 Aug 2013
By 
S.R.J "ssocialdrummer" (Huddersfield) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canada (Paperback)
I felt compelled to write a review after only just having read this book in the space of 24 hours- correct, I couldn't put the damn thing down!. Now, given this review is , well shall we say 'late in the day', I don't suspect many people will read this, nonetheless, onwards and upwards eh?

I see this novel divides opinion,some on here castigate it for being longwinded and lacking in plot, then I have read some reviews that celebrate the plot.

For me the difference with this novel is in the layers of characterization, in particular the central charcter - Dell. I have no intention of discussing the plot/story line, others have done so handsomely.

Purposefully written in a strange style, whereby you are told an outcome in advance of the story that leads to that outcome; a clever ploy methinks, particularly considering this book is partly about unravelling the mysterious way in which people, and in particular, families become enmeshed and develop behavioural patterns that have consequences. All human behaviour is ultimately consequential, but how we reconcile ourselves to the path that follows is another thing. This is where Mr Ford excels, by announcing an outcome he can beautifully take us on the journey that led to that outcome, thereby the journey is more important than the outcome, mmmmm ...I think we call it life. The title is therefore a simplistic representation of where we get to, and the journey therein, the novel being 'how'.En route of course we have wide open spaces of uncertainty, the claustrophobia of spaces that can harm physically and mentally,causing Dell to question what he lost against what he gained, but not before he had to be exposed to circumstances that hammered his inner spirit to the point where being reconciled to danger and hate and greed etc etc etc , was all he could do, before escaping to a better world.

The drama is decidedly deadpan and fatalistic, almost as if the most terrible events were part of life that just have to be accepted as normal. In this sense its the pervading sense of loss, of childhood innocence, of place, of time , of relationships, of normality even , that makes the reconciliation between brother and sister ( at the very end) so deliciously poignant.

Unusual in style, massive in terms of breadth, both time and location,at times possibly slightly overly introverted, but by the end I felt I had read what may very well become know as a masterpiece.
S.R.J
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel that will achieve classic status, 18 Jun 2012
By 
J. H. Bretts "jerard1" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canada (Kindle Edition)
Dell Parsons, a school teacher at the end of a long career,thinks back to 1960 when he was 15 and living in Great Falls, Montana,his parents robbed a bank and his life was changed utterly...

Richard Ford is at the top of his game. He has woven an extraordinary and emotionally draining novel about growing up,full of compellingly strange but real characters and absorbing incident, and written in a plain but vivid style in which a strong atmosphere of menace is evoked from telling detail.Ford creates a whole world for the reader - the wheat fields of Montana, the geese-filled Canadian skies, run down hotels and families split apart. Told in three distinct parts, yet completely integrated, the book is both clever and moving. And there is something optimistic there too perhaps.

Highly recommended- and for 4.99 a real bargain.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful narration - a story rooted in charachter and place, 23 Jan 2013
By 
J. Coulton "Julia Coulton" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canada (Paperback)
This beautifully written novel from American author Richard Ford has a very striking opening paragraph. He is confident enough that his exemplary story telling will keep the reader on board that his narrator reveals at this early stage that his parents are going to commit a robbery, and that murders will subsequently take place. This gives an unusual sensation of knowing that these events will occur, and grimly waiting for them to unfold.

The narrator is Dell, who is recounting events back when he was fifteen years old. His family are living ordinary humdrum lives in a small city in Montana in 1960. His father has recently left the air force and is something of a loser, dabbling in selling black market meat. His mother is doing her best, despite a lingering unhappiness with her lot, and the notion that she could and should have done much better for herself, to grit her teeth and get on with caring for her family. Dell is close to his twin sister Berner, but the earlier onset of her adolescence is pulling her away into a different world from his. Their family, imperfect though it is as their parents' dissatisfaction with each other seeps into daily life, is shattered by a single event.

Ford is a master at creating a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere, vivid with description and empty with the tedium of the family's lives at the same time. It is reminiscent of Anne Tyler at her brilliant best. He captures perfectly how the twins must have felt in that domestic setting: 'Being a child under those circumstances was mostly waiting - for them to do something, or to be older - which seemed a long way away.'

And Dell keeps revealing future events before they happen as the story unfolds - he won't see his parents again after they visit them in jail following their arrest for the very amateurish bank robbery; terrible things are going to happen when he escapes to Canada with the help of a neighbour ....It is an interesting and original device that on the whole works really well. There are just a few awkward moments in the narration where you wonder how the boy really could have known some of the detail he is describing, such as what happened in detail at the hotel on the way to the robbery, when only his parents were there.

Berner, as the fast maturing and wild twin sister is a very likeable and interesting character. She longs to escape from this world both before, and even more so after the robbery. As their paths diverge, Dell is catapulted on another path altogether, as he is offered sanctuary in a remote part of Canada with a friend's son. This is in effect the second part of the book, and suffice it to say that the promised sanctuary turns out to be something rather different and more dangerous for Dell.

Despite some irksome plot inconsistencies, this is an absorbing and captivating piece of writing by Ford, who paints characters with resonance and vitality, and plants them firmly in the period he is writing about with real style.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I really didn't enjoy it, 4 April 2014
By 
This review is from: Canada (Kindle Edition)
After reading it and made up my mind that I really didn't much like it I read the reviews on Amazon and unfortunately, I am not in agreement with them. I lost concentration quite often and obviously lost the plot. Why was the boy so complacent and accept everything and why did they harp on so much about his mother being Jewish. I have to admit I didn't really understand a lot of it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, epic novel with some plot issues, 16 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Canada (Hardcover)
Richard Ford is a master of the written word, this is clear. But...perhaps I need a story that is more plot-driven than Canada. Beutiful language, imagery, and characterisation just aren't always enough. This is why I gave this book 4 stars not 5, so we are talking about a difference of opinion on what a novel should look like.

Perhaps part of the problem with Canada for me was the way the author would tell what happened first, then tell us how it happened. I would much rather find out the story the other way around.

In Part One we meet a desperate family in desperate circumstances. The story is told from the point of view of the teenage son, Dell. The book starts with this sentence, 'First I'll tell you about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders , which happened later.' It's a brilliant opening, and had this been the only time Ford had told the reader the outcome before the story, it would have been fine with me.

The novel is a hefty one and is divided into two parts. I enjoyed Part One, of the family in both emotional and financial turmoil in 1960's America. It has a tragically seductive quality about it. While you know the dreadful thing is going to happen, you still wish it would not have the monumental consequences it does. But even here, time and time again, Ford lets us know what the character's fates are going be well before the narrator gets to tell the story.

Part Two, where Dell is taken to Canada, was more depressing and difficult for me to read. I couldn't really understand where the story was going. The awful circumstances of Dell's life, where he was alone, unprotected and uncared for at such and early age (I think he was fifteen), and so soon after his parents demise, just seemed too dreadful to contemplate. As I read on, all I could be was afraid for Dell. There seemed no hope for his future.

Canada is really a family saga, a terribly sad and tragic one, but I fear probably quite realistic one too. I guess this was the author's aim; to make the narrative look as if it was told by a non-professional author.

Perhaps I need my fiction to look like fiction and to have more happiness, and less realism?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Long and a little bit dull, 18 Jan 2014
By 
J. Lee "jambo" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canada (Paperback)
I've never read anything by Richard Ford before but thought I'd give this a go as it had decent reviews.

But again it seems to be one of those books that is lauded by the critics rather than the reading public. In fact I'd go as far to say he's someone who's writing to impress rather than to entertain the reader.

It's a book that excels in explaining the nothingness, which he does really well. But at the end of the day it's still nothingness. And that can be a bit dull.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Canada, 6 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Canada (Paperback)
I feel this book could be used in social work casing of adolescents coping with a family crisis and and to imagine if this plot took place at this point in time; very mindful of coping tactics in the here and now. Completely felt drawn in.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Parent/child relationships, 31 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Canada (Kindle Edition)
Fascinating - Ford is a real wordsmith. The situation that he puts the narrator in is quite a surprise.|I had assumed when reading reviews of the book that the bank robbers would be the murderers but relocating the narrator to that strange half world in Canada was fascinating and i think that he got into the confused mind and perceptions of a 15 year old in a really convincing way.I read 'Independence Day'some time ago and loved it, especially for the sharply drawn exposition of the father/son relationship and loved it.After reconnecting with 'Canada' i will now be doing my best to work through Ford's entire oeuvre.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new and successful direction from a great American novelist, 25 Sep 2012
By 
A Common Reader "Committed to reading" (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Canada (Hardcover)
A new novel arrived this summer from a favourite writer of mine, Richard Ford, with the simple title, Canada. At 432 pages, its a substantial read and bears little relationship to Ford's earlier Frank Bascombe novels. This is a long, meandering book about a 15 year old boy, Dell Parsons, who's life is marked by disaster. Dell lives with his twin sister in Grand Falls, Minnesota. The twins' parents are a mildly dysfunctional marriage marked by mutual disappointment the nature of which Ford captures succinctly in the first half of the book.

Dell's father has left the Air Force after serving as a bombardier in the Second World War and is now trying to make his way in the world, but without much success. After some shady deals fall through he finds himself under pressure to pay off debts before he gets shot by his debtors and turns to bank robbery, an occupation he is not suited for. He involves his wife in the robbery not realising the potentially disastrous results for his two children in 1950′s Montana, a state with an under-developed social-services structure and cruel orphanages.

The build up to the bank robbery is described superbly. We see the tension building up from Dell's perspective but with adult insights for he tells the story in the first person many years after the event. The tragic outcome is inevitable, for Dell's father is cunning only in an almost innocent way which is bound to result in his capture, while his mother, the more intelligent of the two seems to have been deluded by the thought of the large sums of money which would enable her to finally get out of her fatally-flawed marriage.

The second part of the book, and the one which gives the book its title follows Dell on his escape from the clutches of the authorities up to Saskatchewan north of the border, where he stays with a distant relative of a family friend. His life seems barely tolerable in this desolate landscape but he manages to make his way in an equally dysfunctional setting only to have another set of disasters come his way. It is only because Ford drops in references to Dell's reasonably successful adult life that this section is at all bearable, because the misey of Dell's life in Canada would otherwide be unbearable.

Canada is a slow-burning, meandering novel. Ford takes his time to get to the point, but he is a fine writer, whose digressions are as vital to the text as the story itself. The reader has to relax and slow down (read the Wikipedia article on slow reading to get the idea). There is no point in hurrying this book - there are pearls hidden among the text which it would be a shame to miss and it is apparent from other reviewers that unless you can enjoy well-crafted sentences for their own sake you are going to find this book unsatisfying.

For myself I luxuriated in Ford's circuitous prose, with its insights and burgeoning wisdom. I was reminded slightly of Marilynne Robinson of Gilead fame, and also perhaps of David Gutterson (Snow Falling on Cedars), both of whom have a similarly quiet style, allowing any plot to unfold as secondary to the exploration of character and relationship which are at the heart of their books.

Richard Ford's many fans will have been wondering for a long time what he would do next and Canada seems to have been a surprise for most of us. I am well-satisfied with Canada. I a literary landscape where disappointment so often predominates, I am happy to say I found a week or so of deep satisfaction with this novel.
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Canada
Canada by Richard Ford (Paperback - 11 Oct 2012)
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