Wednesday, January 23

Book Review: Away

Title: Away

Author: Jane Urquhart

Pages: 356

Summary: A stunning, evocative novel set in Ireland and Canada, Away traces a family's complex and layered past. The narrative unfolds with shimmering clarity, and takes us from the harsh Northern Irish coast in the 1840's to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa at the time of Confederation to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake during the present day. Graceful and moving, Away unites the personal and the political as it explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. Powerful, intricate, lyrical, Away is an unforgettable novel.

My Rating: 9/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While it took me some time to warm up to the book, I ended up becoming lost in Urquhart's lyrical prose and storytelling, which created a very enjoyable read.

The beginning was slow and a little odd, it was a combination of folklore and magical realism - or perhaps a mental illness. Either way you look at it, it was an odd beginning of the book and an odd way to introduce the cast of characters. Despite an odd beginning, the author pulls it off, and pulls the reader into her lyrical writing style and storytelling. Once things picked up, there were many times the book was hard to put down, as I was well involved with the story. I enjoyed how Urquhart highlighted the immigrant experience when the book moved to settings from Ireland to Canada, especially when they initially arrived and the characters first nights living in their new home was rather haunting, Urquhart captured that experience perfectly. Even at the books more weaker points, I found myself lured in by the prose, which was stunning.

Characterization had some issues, although I did enjoy the eccentric and flawed characters the book had, I didn't love them. They carried the story forward, but when I was finished reading the book, I wasn't left with a character who left an imprint on me. Also the first half of the book was rather unusual, and while it had some interesting folklore tied into it, I found it didn't tie into the rest of the story as well as it could have. Otherwise it was an enjoyable read, with lovely prose.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. The book isn't for everyone, I know a lot of readers wouldn't like the style of writing. But it is a book I'd highly recommend.

What to read next: February, Indian Horse, Age of Hope, Two Solitudes, Under this Unbroken Sky, Natasha Stories.

Challenges: 100+ Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, Alphabet Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Ireland Reading Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge, Read-a-latte Challenge


  1. This is a book that has been out there for awhile now, and if I am not mistaken, I do have it in my shelf of unreads. It sounds as though it's a rather eclectic story, but one that keeps it's readers engrossed in all it's various twists and turns. Great review today, Jules. I enjoyed reading your thoughts!

    1. This is one you should bump up on your TBR list if you have it sitting on your shelf. I have had it for sometime, and it was well worth reading it.