Elizabeth and After

Elizabeth and After

Book - 1999
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Carl McKelvey returns to small-town Ontario, to a landscape marred by 'progress' and dotted by monster homes, to see more of his young daughter Lizzie, and to put behind him the legacy of violence and alcohol that brought about his divorce and subsequent departure. But he soon discovers he is being watched with great interest by two men: the town's most prominent businessman, and his ex-wife's new husband--both engaged in a power struggle that is played out by others in parking lots and rural terrain under hot night skies. But what he doesn't see at first--as he tries to bury his feelings for his former wife--is that a third man is watching: a man who once loved Carl's intelligent and engimatic mother. This three-generational story of passion and subterfuge is limned with Matt Cohen's gift for language and a narrative tension that embraces descriptions of astonishing beauty and power.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1999
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780676971705
Branch Call Number: FIC Cohen 3558ad 1
Characteristics: 370 p


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Jun 28, 2018

This story had a long rambling start dealing mostly with McKelvey senior but having so many diversions it reminded me of one of those interminable Stuart Maclean Vinyl Café stories (yawn).
Just when I was giving up hope the book turned to the younger generation and become moderately interesting. Then it did a most annoying switch back to rambling again. There was a similar backflip later and I found both switches were completely wrongly timed in the story telling. Just get on with what you were saying and don’t get distracted would have been my advice!
I am always suspicious of the small-town setting where there is so much drama amongst so few inhabitants and history plays such a disproportionate part of everyone’s lives. West Gull has 600 or so inhabitants and I constantly questioned just how interesting such a place can actually be. Coupled with this flaw all the characters came over as very one dimensional.
Carl (McKelvey junior) seems almost too good to be true, his bad boy behaviour neatly confined to the past. A better description of his difficulties struggling with his demons, along with the challenges of being more than he is assumed to be, would have enhanced this book.
Chrissie who is so intense in her love but so passive in accepting her beatings and involuntary porn queen role.
Fred a violent abuser and bully who still gets easily elected Reeve.
Adam whose demeanour belongs to the most stilted and least passionate lover imaginable.
Luke a selfish showman and master manipulator.
Ned simply an immature simpleton.
In summary it is difficult for me to understand how this book could have won the 1999 Governor General’s Award for Fiction and a Globe and Mail commendation. It is a very average work of fiction and Canada can surely do better.

Sep 13, 2016

I really enjoyed this novel. I especially liked that the locale was Ontario. I will read it again some day too! I grew up in, and spent most of my life in, Ontario!

tdk Sep 11, 2012

I think I'm going to have to give up on this book. I'm on page 78 and its doing nothing for me.....have been slogging through it and getting nothing out of it.

I tried.


ok, so I pushed through this book by skimming. Really wasn't worth it. It gets good reviews on the internet but really, I don't understand why.

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