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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing
I greatly enjoyed this book and would recommend it. The writing is fluent. The characters are well thought out and sharply focused - particularly in the interaction between characters. It is, I think, impossible to read about Fielding without wishing to meet her; I would take issue in describing her as a hack journalist - honestly cynical might be a better...
Published on 14 Aug 2000 by W. A. Livesley

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A novel that amuses often but rarely moves....
The colony in question is Newfoundland, one of the British Empire's first acquisitions, which was relinquished to Canada a mere half-century or so ago. The novel follows the career of Joey Smallwood, who rises from humble origins to become Premier of the newly-confederated Canadian province. Smallwood is portrayed as a tenacious, trouble-making demagogue who, by...
Published on 20 Dec 1999


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, 14 Aug 2000
By 
W. A. Livesley "W. Alex Livesley" (Carlsbad, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (Paperback)
I greatly enjoyed this book and would recommend it. The writing is fluent. The characters are well thought out and sharply focused - particularly in the interaction between characters. It is, I think, impossible to read about Fielding without wishing to meet her; I would take issue in describing her as a hack journalist - honestly cynical might be a better description. On top of all of this is a description of a society and a way of life unknown, I suspect, to most of us. The description of the sealers and the bleak way of life of the fishing and railway communities is both sad and fascinating.
The comparison with Robertson Davies is apt since Mr Johnston has Davies gift of describing an enclosed (Newfoundland) society in a way that is interesting and comprehensible to his readers. Unlike Robertson Davies he doesn't use the metaphysical and his characters are less grounded in wealth and privilege. Another author that came to mind when reading this book was Louis de Bernieres. Mr Davies has the same lightness of touch when describing the tragic - picking out small details to humanise and focus. Also, like de Bernieres, Mr Davies makes one cry on one page and laugh on the next. This book is witty with a straightforward wit rather than the slyness of Robertson Davies.
The only problem with the book is the central character of Smallwood. He remains, as I have said above, in sharp focus throughout the book. However, I am confused about his motivations for much of what he does in the name of socialism. I can understand his desire for socialism. Given the time and place it would seem to be the logical answer to many of his fellow countrymen's woes. In reading the book, however, he doesn't appear as any socialist I have ever met. Many of his actions in the name of socialism are puzzling. It is not clear to me, for example, why he chose to try to unionise the fishermen. What did they stand to gain from a Union since they were effectively self-employed?
The fact that I can ask such questions and take such an interest in the character underlines the quality of the book. I care enough about the characters to spend a little more time reading around the subject.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best book I have read, 23 Jun 2004
By 
lucy watts (Australia, NSW) - See all my reviews
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is possibly the most captivating and enjoyable book I have ever read. Brilliantly written. Humorous. Tragic. Romantic. I am surprised Johnston didn't receive more awards for his work. This book is definitely worth purchasing. Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A symphony of expressions!!!, 23 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (Paperback)
This is one of the best books I have read over the last few years. Its simple, ironic prose allows for easy reading, yet the reader becomes aware of the underlying subtext, about a nation's sense for identity and a love so intricate it overcomes its principal characters. The story covers 50 years of New Foundland's history, and in that time, so much is lost and gained. If you enjoyed 'The shipping news' then this is the book for you. Buy it, it's fantastic!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put this down, 11 Oct 2013
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I am a Smallwood and if you read this you will meet the most interesting Smallwood I have ever come across he is a man that shaped a nation and with the help of good friends helped to build a better place
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful & Intelligent Read, 1 Oct 2012
This review is from: The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (Paperback)
I first read this novel several years ago and during a period of frequent trips to Newfoundland. I have just re-read it and such is the quality of writing that I have a kind of 'homesickness' for a place and people that I came to greatly admire. The Colony of Unrequitted Dreams is so good, it would require skills beyond mine to adequately describe. Mr Johnston's flair for storytelling is supreme, his writing is equal to his imagination as he follows the twists and turns in the intertwined lives of his two main characters. I think most of all that impresses most, it is Mr Johnston's remarkable insight and the way he reveals the inner thoughts of his characters, the kind that most of us have but seldom reveal, if ever.

As for lacking 'the ability to move' mentioned elsewhere, I find this astonishing given the description of lives of sealers and the ending which is poignant and tear provoking. If you like this book, try Baltimore's Mansion by the same author.

If like me, you get the opportunity of visiting Newfoundland - just go!

Mr Johnston, if you ever read this review - thank you.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most remarkable thing about this book is it is a true st, 2 Jan 2001
This fictionalised true story of the very slow rise to fame of 'the unlikely revolutionary' Charlie Underhill, was for me the book of 1999. The long and incredibly bitter road that Underhill trod in his pursuit of better days, is both comical and sad.
Set in the bleak and blasted setting of Newfoundland, It is a must for anybody who has a love of Canadian/North American history.
The non-romance with the beautifully un-glamourous Fielding, was comically frustrating, eventually becoming heart wrenching in its futility. The biggest 'will they. wont they' question since romeo and juliet.
This book deserves to be called a classic, moreover it deserves to be read.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A novel that amuses often but rarely moves...., 20 Dec 1999
By A Customer
The colony in question is Newfoundland, one of the British Empire's first acquisitions, which was relinquished to Canada a mere half-century or so ago. The novel follows the career of Joey Smallwood, who rises from humble origins to become Premier of the newly-confederated Canadian province. Smallwood is portrayed as a tenacious, trouble-making demagogue who, by degrees, transforms himself into a pragmatic politician. Historical and fictional episodes are juxtaposed, and both are populated with a mixed cast of real and imaginary characters. As a foil for the idealistic Smallwood, Johnson invents the colourful figure of Shelagh Fielding, a cynical journalist, and author of the sublimely sarcastic 'Condensed History of Newfoundland' which is excerpted throughout the book, providing a droll counterpoint to Smallwood's progress. The novel is strongest in its comic moments, and in its evocation of Newfoundland's landscape and history. Elsewhere though, a good deal of Johnson's fictionalising, presumably intended to heighten the drama of his tale, falls more or less flat. The upshot is a novel that often amuses, occasionally fascinates but rarely moves the reader.
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The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
The Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston (Paperback - 1 Jun 2000)
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