CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Currie, Sheldon.

Ottawa (Ont.) Oberon Press, 1988. 144pp, paper, ISBN 0-B8750-705-0 (cloth) $25.95. 0-88750-706-9 (paper) $12.95.

Grades 8 and up
Reviewed by Judy Baxter

Volume 17 Number 1
1989 January

The setting and period of The Company Store are not specifically established beyond the description of a small reining town in New Brunswick. On the back of this edition, the story is oddly described: "Times are hard here but there is no despair." This interpretation of the story was surprising to me because I found it to be full of despair. The book reminds one of Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence in its bleak vision of life in a mining town.

The story begins when the central character arrives home after leaving the air force. His father is a miner, who, like most other men in the town, is attempting to support his family by working long shifts in hazardous working conditions. The company store symbolizes the despair felt by the townspeople and is the target of their frustrations. It is the store to which every family is indebted and by which, therefore, every family is helplessly trapped. The burning down of the store by one of the miners represents a dubious glimmer of hope, but the resulting "release" of the townspeople from the grip of the store is at best a temporary condition. There are a number of potentially interesting characters but, unfortunately, none seems to be fully developed. We want to sympathize with the agony of these people but we don't learn enough about them.

The language of the narrative is simple and direct; the mood is of quiet sadness. Perhaps the saddest comment of the story lies in the futile hope of the characters that their situations might actually change. Ultimately, this is a moving and thought-provoking novel.

Judy Baxter, Wychwood Library, Toronto, Ont.
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