CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Barcus, W.D.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1986. 207pp, paper, ISBN 0-88750-649-6 (cloth) $23.95, 0-88750-651-8 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Clare A. Darby

Volume 15 Number 3
1987 May

W.D. Barcus's Squatter's Island is set amid the stark harbours, breakwaters, seas, and the isolated, wooded islands and hills of outport Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In this neo-Faulkneresque setting, an introspective young boy, Andrew MacDonald, grows up and attempts to deal with a mother who deserted him, an aging father, the death of a friend, the acquiring of a wife, and an island that holds an unnatural power over him.

Although the protagonist is a young boy, turned teenager, turned husband, there is little here that would interest most high school students. The narrative was not designed to be suspenseful and it is not. The characters were not intended to be either universal or empathetic and they are not. The theme of loss through growth is not unique. And the setting, which comes closest to being an empathetic character, is too much with us.

Adults, on the other hand, might enjoy the slice of outport life and the quaint dialect of the inhabitants. Some might even be interested in the way in which Barcus weaves the memories of the past into the events of the present. Certainly, the style is the only truly redeeming feature of this novel.

Clare A. Darby, Three Oaks S.H.S., Summerside, P.E.I.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works