The Fortunate Brother is a dark, atmospheric and compelling novel about the aftermath of a murder in a claustrophobic rural community in Newfoundland. When a body is found in the lake suspicion falls on the troubled Now family. As the mystery unfolds other, far deeper, secrets are revealed. Compassionate and wise, beautiful and brutal, The Fortunate Brother is the story of a family and a community in turmoil and confirms Donna Morrissey’s place as one of Canada’s foremost storytellers
Firstly, it felt like a privilege to read this book, such is the quality of the writing. A hauntingly beautiful intense character driven novel about the Now family who are living in a small insular town in Newfoundland and grieving for their son Chris who was killed in an accident in Alberta. Kyle, the surviving brother is the ‘fortunate brother’ of the title.
As if tragedy hasn’t visited their household enough times, a local man is discovered murdered and there is a blood trail on their pier. There is also a history of confrontation with the deceased and so the family are drawn into this murder mystery as well as having to cope with the intensity of their own grief, the changing dynamics between them all and their own personal demons and problems. Sylvanus the father turns to drink. The mother Abbie is facing the prospect of breast cancer and Kyle is very protective of her. The daughter Sylvie has fled the nest unable to cope with her own guilt and can’t be around them all.
This isn’t an easy read by any means, although there are light hearted moments.
Anyone suffering from any type of depressive illness could easily be affected by the raw emotion that’s pretty much a constant throughout the book.
Although for the recently bereaved it could be cathartic – all the stages of grief the family experience are exposed and raw.
The writer must have been drawing on some of her own experiences to describe it all so well. The book certainly brought back some difficult memories from my own past.
I felt that it petered out a bit towards the end, although that could have been just a winding down of the narrative. However, I think this a book that will stay with me for a good while and I’d like to read the preceding two novels to build up the whole picture of the Now family.
I received an ARC from the publisher Canongate via Becca Nice and chose to review this book.
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