`FREE PDF ↵ The Colony of Unrequited Dreams ⇝ PDF eBook or Kindle ePUB free

I loved this book It was enthralling and informative, well written and funny I know very little about the history of Newfoundland, it s the other end of the country and to be honest, from a cultural point of view, BC has in common with Washington, Oregon and California than with the rest of Canada and I seldom think about what goes on out East While I realize much of this book is fictional, including one of the main characters, it fills in some very basic how life was in Newfoundland before joining Canada that I wasn t aware of I certainly wasn t aware that they had been a Dominion or of the controversy over joining Canada The character of Fielding was fantastic, she was a Dorothy Parker esque type person Acerbic but fragile and full of great quips, she has an independent opinion on everything and tends to think about herself than the big political issues She is a great foil for Smallwood who wants to make a name for himself and tends to be depressingly serious and socialist conscious The story of Smallwood s life, as told by him, are alternated with sections of Fielding s diary and parts of the condensed history of Newfoundland that she is writing, very much in a sarcastic style Her history made me laugh out loud several times, especially when they were about the unfairness of colonialism I polished off this book in three days, over the course of a week, though the majority of it was read on one Saturday, where I didn t move from my very comfortable chair for hours on end, except to get another cup of tea I highly recommend this book. The best work of historical fiction I have read in a long time Based on history that of Newfoundland s entry into Confederation and the architect of that event Newfoundland s first premier, Joey Smallwood, this is still very much a work of fiction I m not sure how much of the Smallwood we read about is real, but he is certainly an engaging, complex and well developed character His longtime friend love nemesis, Sheilagh Fielding is one of my favorite female characters of all time and I m so glad to hear that Johnston has written another book about her Wayne Johnston always writes with wit and his word plays are second to none I can t believe I liked a book about politics this much. Really 3.5 For no reason my reading travels have taken me to many cold and desolate climates over the last year It began in Iceland with Burial Rites I visited Greenland in the unfinished This Cold Heaven Seven Seasons in Greenland a follow up to the The Voyage of the Narwhal in a which a fictional crew sets out in hopes of discovering what happened to John Franklin s lost expedition in search of the Northwest Passage I just finished this, a history of Joey Smallwood, Newfoundland s first premier after confederation with Canada And now I ve picked up The Snow Child set in the Alaskan wilds circa 1920 Now let me make this clear I hate winter These are not comfort reads This was not intentional Newfoundland is somewhere that I had given little thought to for a great number of years I knew virtually nothing of its history Well, this book will bring any reader up on that At first, I enjoyed the story That of Smallwood s impoverished childhood, living with a raging alcoholic father, and the oldest of many siblings Because his uncle has been successful in the shoe business the Smallwood family is always well shoed, but otherwise lacking Joey Smallwood is fortunate in that his uncle sees that he has the opportunity for an education Unfortunately, he is scandalized and several of these peers weave in and out of his life A letter that sets his life on a different course remains a mystery to Smallwood for the rest of the book And it is this premise that I struggled most with throughout this long book It just wasn t that compelling for me.I enjoyed most of the other aspects of Smallwood s life path That he left Newfoundland for New York City for a brief period, traveling by train across the island, then living marginally fortunately saved by other Newfoundlander s there That he returns to Newfoundland to organize labor and unions by walking much of the country His career as a barely paid journalist and later as a host of a radio show intended to enlighten people on the country And again traveling the coastal habitations and for political and social causes Always though, wanting to leave his mark, but rarely seeming to be than impoverished Until finally he is known enough through his endeavors and he becomes Newfoundland s first Premier after confederation with Canada Until this time Britain has again and again assigned men to rule Newfoundland, but with various degrees of failure Interspersed with Smallwood s tale are brief descriptions of Newfoundland s political rule These are written by Fielding, an old female classmate and the reason for his childhood educational ending He loves Fielding but is inept in the emotional IQ department and their relationship is really strange She too is a journalist, but one who never takes to any particular line of political thought Only that of placing thorns in everyone s sides There is a denouement in Fielding s life toward the end of the book, but by then I had been strung along too long, and it did not have the desired impact I have mixed feelings toward this book It was saga like but was too long Although it packed a lot of history in I so enjoyed the physical aspects of the book the necessarily hard life of living in a remote and relatively unwanted land, of interest for its two natural resources, fish and lumber And I enjoyed learning about its history and the fascinating story of Smallwood, a footnote in world history I do think having background on Newfoundland would have helped my appreciate this book, but there s always plot and story well executed and told and unfortunately some of those footings were a little too shaky for me 3.5 stars. Mixing a historically significant character with a fictitious one is an interesting conceit, especially if the fictitious one outshines the real guy Joey Smallwood, first premier of Newfounland post confederation with Canada, is the real person, a kid from the sticks of St John s, whose father is an alcoholic and whose mother can t stop having babies, who dreams big and seeks power, believing that one day he will be the premier of his country yes, it was a country, a rather bankrupt one, before it became a Canadian province Sheilagh Fielding, the fictitious character, is a doctor s daughter from the quality side of the social strata she is a journalist and Smallwood s nemesis, a cynic oozing irony when she is not boozing on Scotch Fielding is a metaphor for Smallwood s Newfoundland tortured, secretive, betrayed, impoverished, alcoholic, brash They are in love with each other but are too intellectual and uptight to consummate their passion they address each other by their last names even during intimate and private moments In fact, for a politician, Smallwood s sexual appetite is strangelywellsmall He prefers to sublimate his energy by walking or sailing around the Rock in all kinds of inclement weather, collecting union dues for his socialist cause from uneducated people who would prefer to hide from their neighbours in coves and harbours and spend their time fishing.Smallwood and Fielding have gaping character holes in addition to physical deformities He is small, myopic, emaciated, pre tubercular and is a lousy father and husband who never spends time with his family She has a game leg, cannot shake off the booze, is tubercular, and is alienated from her family A letter sent to the local newspaper that gets 15 year old Smallwood expelled from his prestigious high school begins the life long duel between this formidable couple and turns into a mystery that runs through the book, taking on sinister implications as new information is unearthed Smallwood s takes to a career in journalism and radio, and uses his media platforms to solidify his political position in the rural areas outside St John s In fact, when the referendum on confederation is finally fought, it is these outlying areas that swing the vote towards a union with Canada Smallwood s goal all along He is obsessed with writing Newfoundland s history to counter the inaccurate attempts made thus far by others And Fielding is out to do the same but she belittles this impossible and inhospitable colony that seems to be run by charlatans and has beens of the Colonial office.The novel covers Smallwood s and Fielding s lives from age 15 through to their retirement years in a combination of first person narrative Smallwood , journal entries and unsent letters Fielding and short extracts from Fielding s irony laden, condensed version of The History of Newfoundland I laughed during sections of this novel, particularly throughout the true story of prime minister Sir Richard Squires escape from the mob, aided by our dynamic duo The unravelling of Fielding s dark secret was heart wrenching, although reminiscent of most Canadian family dramas that reveal skeletons in closets brought about by lust and impropriety.Most importantly, I believe this novel is a better introduction to the history of Newfoundland than the books Smallwood and Fielding were trying to either discredit or write themselves. Seemed a bit derivative of Howard Norman Sheilagh Fielding is a close sister to Margaret Handle in The Bird Artist, which was published a few years earlier Although the writing is good the author excels at description and character develpment the story somehow doesn t seem to justify the length 500 plus pages That said, the interwoven pages from Fielding s history of Newfoundland are an interesting device Without them, there d be less of a sense of place, which is essential for the story Also, Fielding s other writings are almost a novel in themselves The two voices of Joe Smallwood, the main character, and of Fielding are complementary, as are Fielding s public history and private diary voices So it s odd that to a large extent, it felt like the same thing all the way through And the mystery of who really wrote the letter that got Joe expelled from school wasn t that compelling I kept waiting for something Joe s eventual triumph to happen, but it never does really, even though he becomes the first premier of Newfoundland after federation with Canada. I m reviewing this novel with much trepidation and caution My copy is signed by Mr Johnston who I met at a reading this past November for his latest novel He s a nice man and a great reader He could be a stand up comic, very dry, very patient with his story telling, and has a very good understanding of story at that My caution comes from my own writing about Newfoundland, and I have to be very cautious for I am a Mainlander, not a native son I have a sense of what Newfoundland is about I ve known and worked with many Newfs I ve partied in the Newfoundland embassy at Acadia University in the early 80 s, and I began my own writing journey during a three month stay in St John s For the record, I have two novels nearly completed nearly is not an accurate word in this business and both are about Newfoundland characters I ve roamed the streets of St John s at all hours of the day, I ve toured the city by car, foot, and bus I ve worked with her people, drank coffees at night with them, and I ve discussed with them what it is to be a Newfoundlander I m no expert on this subject For that, I d recommend David Benson at Afterwords book store on Water St., a quiet sidewalk smoker with all the histories of Newfoundland in his head plus a few not yet published I saw Mr Smallwood once, February 1991, in the Hotel Newfoundland He was old and skinny, but he carried an air of dignity I pictured him as a silver statue of elegance stuck in this land of self deprevation That s what Newfoundland feels like it feels like a line up of inner city American vagrants waiting for their soup and handouts and complaining of the 1% and how such a raw deal they ve recieved It s a community dominated by unrequittedness, and it is very much a community Wayne discusses the differences between St Johners and the rest, the Baymen if you will though they aren t all bay men But to me, these are city rural differences only Burn a Newfoundland flag, and they ll all join in throwing your kicked ass into the ocean.This story lacks certain elements There s no gripping mainstream plot there s no great dissection of Joey Smallwood and there s no satisfaction of story Plot Nope This is a literary novel Yes there s tension galore, but there s no dragon tattoo story here Didn t really expect one, and I wasn t disappointed.Shallowness, emptiness I think it might be worthwhile to point out who the main character is In my opinion, it s the people of Newfoundland It s the unrequitted tribe We get a lot about Joe it s told by him, but we really never get a sense of who he really is He comes across as all high and mighty, but we also see his unexplained weaknesses getting drunk, living as a bum in NYC, and dolling his influence on freedom of speech he so much relished earlier I came away with little understanding of how the man really felt, and I felt little empathy Many have argued this, but I found much of the discussion superfluous I felt Joe was a first person narrator, telling the story through his disconnected voice But I think that was necessary If we fell in love with Joe, we d never know the true Newfoundland.In the end, we re not satisfied with the outcome Plain and simple There s no story resolution to make you sit back and say wow It leaves you hanging, empty But you kow, Newfoundland leaves you hanging and empty Her great people leave you hanging and empty This is not a criticism of the land, but let s be honest It s way the hell out there on the edge of the continent They live on the outside looking in They are very much forgotten and ignored by the rest of us.But when you add up everything, the constant, empty searching by Joe, the ascorbic commentaries by Fielding, and the constant unfulfilled hopes and dreams of this mysteriouos nation, you end up with a brilliant characterization of a land, of Newfoundland As I read it, and as I continue to write about it, I find it s wholly consistent with my understandings and probably with reality And that made me say WOW While reading The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, and especially upon finishing it, I needed to know just how historically accurate the narrative was the Joey Smallwood of the book fit or less with the bits I know about the actual first Premier of Newfoundland, but if the acid penned, hilariously ironic Sheilagh Fielding did exist, I wanted to learn about her A google search led to this essay by the author, Wayne Johnston, and the following revelationThe Colony of Unrequited Dreams is a dramatic rendering of the spirit of a people and a place, an island that in 1948 came within a hair s breadth of achieving nationhood and that it still longs for to this day It was written in the belief that in this story of Newfoundland, this love story whose two main players are characters inspired by Joe Smallwood and the wholly imaginary Sheilagh Fielding, readers everywhere would see reflected their own attempts to crawl out from underneath the avalanche of history with their human individuality intact I also happen to be listening to Pat Conroy s My Reading Life right now, and early in that book Conroy makes the case that Gone With the Wind is a masterwork, perfectly capturing the South s transition from separate society through the tragedy of the Civil War to ultimate confirmation of its indivisible union with the Northern States, and I don t think that it would be overstating it to say that The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is Newfoundland s Gone With the Wind if Scarlett O Hara is the embodiment of the South s transition, then Smallwood embodies the Rock s if Rhett Butler is a dramatic foil, then so too is Sheilagh Feilding But that s not to say that this book seems derivative in any way The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is epic and sweeping and wholly original Through excerpts from the actual A History Of Newfoundland From The English Colonial And Foreign Records by D.W Prowse and a highly ironic fictional history written by Fielding, a historical overview of the island is provided that gives context to the narrative Through Smallwood s first person life story and Fielding s journals and newspaper columns, the capital H History of the time and place is made intimate and personal On top of this intriguing structure are the words themselves the sentence by sentence beautiful writing and Newfie humour had me riveted on every page A view of Newfoundland from offshoreIt was hard to believe Newfoundland was an island and not the edge of some continent, for it extended as far as the eye could see to east and west, the headlands showing no signs of attenuation a massive assertion of land, sea s end, the outer limit of all the water in the world, a great, looming, sky obliterating chunk of rock And a typical, to my ear typically Newfie, turn of phrase that made me chuckle and wince in equal measureI well understood my father s horror of domesticity, of entrapment and confinement The thought of nights in some fetid breeding bed while the products of other such nights lay listening in the next room or outside the door I found so revolting that I vowed I would never marryThe Colony of Unrequited Dreams is a love letter to Newfoundland and beautifully achieves the author s goal from the same essay as above It is about the human character and human emotions inherent in and often masked by historical events and by the written record we call historyThis book has my highest recommendation if only Sheilagh Fielding actually existed how I would love to immerse myself in her newspaper columns. I am typically a harsh critic of historical fiction a crude subject heading that allows for the inclusion of fictionalized history so it was both surprising and enchanting to discover in Wayne Johnston s The Colony of Unrequited Dreams a beautiful story tucked into a bed of real events and people For those easily side tracked by history, for those that read primarily to better themselves, beware the temptation to think this is the story of Joey Smallwood just because he is the first person narrator of the hefty part of the tome The character is a self confessed windbag Lest the reader be misled by the love we all hold for anyone with a recognizable nametag, Johnston gives Smallwood a lucid moment near the end where he is self depicted as absurd, vain, pompous, strutting, and ambitious This is not the description of a character that I would willingly follow through his lifetime of foolishness, not without some incentive beyond merely cozying up to a fictional final father of Confederation The real story is about Shelagh Fielding She begins it She ends it She moves it It is her unrelenting, inexplicable, unrequited love of Joey that allows the reader to have some hope, if little sympathy, for the bumbling accidental politician that one can only hope was a caricature of the real Smallwood It is Fielding with her razor wit, her strength, her poignant suffering, her ironic position as the saviour of Smallwood s career, his moral compass, his very life that feeds the hungry reader It is in her life, nestled in the same obscurity as Shawnawdithit s, we search for meaningful lessons, we see the reflection of the unforgiving landscape of the novel It is her brave and stoic separation from the love of her children, her parents, her lover that trumps whatever losses to corruption and incompetence her countrymen have suffered Never have I read a palatable account of real suffering and loss. We are a people in whose bodies old sea seeking rivers roar with bloodI had The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams on my Canada reading list To be fair, the book was not high up on the list as my knowledge of and interest in Newfoundland was pretty non existent If I say my interest in Newfoundland was pretty low, imagine how eager I would have been to read a fictionalised biography of Joseph Smallwood, Newfoundland s first Premier and the politician to lead the Dominion of Newfoundland into the confederation in 1949.Yeah, exactlyhad it not been for a CBC group read here on GR, I probably would have missed out on what turned out to be a fascinating read that not only changed my perception of the province but also taught me a lot about Canadian history.As mentioned, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is a fictionalised biography, and as such it starts off by telling about Smallwood s childhood and his upbringing in an impoverished environment, though he himself was able to attend school and was taught by what seemed British expats with a lot of chips on their shoulders from being stranded in the last outpost of civilisation i.e anywhere but BritainAll my marks had gone dramatically up, except my mark for character, which had stayed at forty five Its being not only so low, but also fixed, never changing, was the point It could not change, Reeves seemed to be saying my other marks could go up or down, as the case might be, but my character, my fundamental self, would stay the same I might as well have had forty five stamped on my forehead I was what I was, my character was my fate and my fate was forty fiveTo be honest, the mention of forty five made me cringe I read Alistair McLeod s novel No Great Mischief earlier this year and I sincerely hoped that Johnston would not follow that same path that Alistair McLeod chose for his characters, where all events and character traits where blamed on the forty five , though in McLeod s case referring to the Scottish Jacobite rising and the Battle of Culloden of 1745.I was hugely relieved the Scottish topic did not make an appearance in Johnston s book Obviously, I m still scarred from reading No Great Mischief However, the reference to Smallwood s character being criticised and the overall dismissive attitude by his tutors of anything local, anything originating in Newfoundland, seemed to have a profound impact on the young Smallwood who early on decides that he should write the great Newfoundland novel The literary aspirations of young Smallwood do not come to fruition, however, as he is kicked out of school over a letter he is being accused of writing Incidentally, Fielding, his childhood friend from the neighbouring girls school is also forced to leave shortly after Her leaving, too, happens under unresolved circumstances and she too seems to have been involved in the letter that caused Smallwood s dismissal From there on, the lives of both friends intertwine all throughout the story Fielding, an alcoholic already in her youth, sets out on a career in journalism Smallwood initially joins her but then decides to become a socialist and travel the land for the causeI had bought a Bible in Corner Brook because I hoped my supposed religiosity would impress the sectionmen who fed me and let me spend the night in their shacks It did, but, important, it impressed their wives When their wives went to my suitcase to get any clothes that needed washing, there was the Bible That Bible, not one page of which I read along the way, kept many a section man who was otherwise inclined to do so from dismissing me as a Godless socialist and convinced them to sign up with the union I told them and their wives that when I thought I could not take another step, I took out the Bible and was inspired by reading it to carry on I could not have come this far without it, I shamelessly said, at the same time recalling the many times I had been tempted to lighten my load by throwing it awayI won t re tell the story from here on as this would spoil reading the book but eventually Smallwood is in a position where he owns a paper rivaling Fielding s columns and her political satire It was fascinating to watch the two characters the semi historical Smallwood and the entirely fictional Fielding interact in the course of the story In a way, Fielding and Smallwood are complementary to each other where Smallwood is driven by ambition and will not shy away from any trick in the book, Fielding is pragmatic, direct and proud of her integrityShe was called a fence sitter and was challenged to defend herself, which she did by saying the accusation might or might not be trueConfrontations between the two are what made the book rather specialYou lost your job No, she said, I know exactly where it is As of two months ago, it was taken from me You didn t lose your job because of the union, I said, you lost your job because you wouldn t join the union Smallwood, Fielding said, are you some sort of agency of fate that it would be pointless of me to resist If you are, tell me now so I can shoot myself without regretWhile Fielding was without doubt my favourite character, Johnston masterfully interjects other aspects into the book that are really interesting For one, Johnston alternates the storytelling through different styles Smallwood s perspective is told by way of narration from Smallwood s perspective, Fielding s story on the other hand is told through her letters to Smallwood Both parts are separated with excerpts of real and fictionalised books about the history of Newfoundland.One memorable event that Johnston manages to web into the story is the sealing disaster of the S.S Newfoundland that led a group of sealers frozen between two ships neither allowing them shelter from the icy storms before they had caught the set quota of seals The scene is not one that can easily be forgotten and Johnston does well to catch the despair and sadness of the event without exaggerating.Overall, Johnston s writing of the whole book is excellentWhere the water stopped, the wind went overland until it met up again with water on the other side, each one, it seemed, driven on by the other Everything was headed one way clouds, wind, water, the waves so high the horizon was near and jagged, bobbing as if I was jumping up and down I was sure the motion of the waves must extend right to the bottom, the whole ocean running like a river infinitely wide It was impossible not to personify the windHowever, there were still a few snags that kept me from loving this book One was the character of Smallwood Even though the book is amount him, we don t get to know him well Of course, not being able to read his character could be befitting of a politician With Smallwood, though, a lot of things were hinted at but never explored, such as his relationship to his family and people other than Fielding As a reader of a historical novel I would have liked to have seen of Smallwood as a person and as a politician, not just as Fielding s counter partI thought about telling him that Fielding had saved my life, but I could not bring myself to do it, for it seemed to me that the people there were who knew of Fielding s heroism, the indebted to Fielding I would be I not only felt indebted to her, I felt, for reasons I could not understand, that her having saved my life rendered me morally inferior to herWith respect to Fielding also, there was an issue that seemed to drag the book unnecessarily Fielding s secret, the reason she was forced to leave school, and the mystery of the letter that caused Smallwood s expulsion, is revealed at a painstakingly slow pace and left me somewhat disappointed Btw, the secret is not what you might think it is there is a twist, but I didn t feel the mystery element was needed in the novel and just drags it out I shall leave with one journalistic punch up between Fielding and SmallwoodGot a phone call from himself yesterday I made a suggestion He made, and offered to help me carry out, a suggestion of his own Said on the record I was off my rocker Off the record a good deal The words Scotch and bitch came up a lot Editor s explanation Miss Fielding and Mr Smallwood, though they have never met, chat frequently by phone, often sharing a chuckle over the unaccountable rumours that there exists between them some sort of animosity The words Scotch and bitch came up frequently in their most recent conversation because Mr Smallwood had phoned Miss Fielding with the happy news that his terrier had just had a litter of puppies, three of whom were female Miss Fielding, who had been promised the pick of the litter and who has followed with much interest and concern the course of Pokey s pregnancy these past few months, could not have been pleased As for the exchange of suggestions, it demonstrates perfectly the deep seated friendship that exists between these two, which no amount of professional rivalry can undermine `FREE PDF ⇹ The Colony of Unrequited Dreams ☞ A Mystery And A Love Story Spanning Five Decades, The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams Is An Epic Portrait Of Passion And Ambition, Set Against The Beautiful, Brutal Landscape Of Newfoundland In This Widely Acclaimed Novel, Johnston Has Created Two Of The Most Memorable Characters In Recent Fiction Joey Smallwood, Who Claws His Way Up From Poverty To Become New Foundland S First Premier And Sheilagh Fielding, Who Renounces Her Father S Wealth To Become A Popular Columnist And Writer, A Gifted Satirist Who Casts A Haunting Shadow On Smallwood S Life And CareerThe Two Meet As Children At School And Grow To Realize That Their Lives Are Irreversibly Intertwined, Bound Together By A Secret They Don T Know They Share Smallwood, Always On The Make, Torn Between Love Of Country And Fear Of Failure, Is As Reluctant To Trust The Private Truths Of His Heart As His Rival And Savior, Fielding Brilliant, Hard Drinking, And Unconventionally Sexy Their Story Ranges From Small Town Newfoundland To New York City, From The Harrowing Ice Floes Of The Seal Hunt To The Lavish Drawing Rooms Of Colonial Governors, And Combines Erudition, Comedy, And Unflagging Narrative Brio In A Manner Reminiscent Of John Irving And Charles Dickens A Tragicomic Elegy For The Colony Of Unrequited Dreams That Is Newfoundland, Wayne Johnston S Masterful Tribute To A People And A Place Establishes Him As A Novelist Who Is As Profound As He Is Funny, With An Impeccable Sense Of The Intersection Where Private Lives And History Collide