Fairlight Moderns Novella
by William Prendiville
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Send NetGalley books directly to your Kindle or Kindle app
To read on a Kindle or Kindle app, please add email@example.com as an approved email address to receive files in your Amazon account. Click here for step-by-step instructions.
Also find your Kindle email address within your Amazon account, and enter it here.
Pub Date 01 May 2021 | Archive Date 02 Sep 2019
‘I read it at a sitting, and then again to savour its rich characterisation and powerful story.’ — Allan Massie, novelist and journalist
‘Prendiville’s writing lifts the curtain on the contradictions of the human soul.’ — Benoît Breville, journalist, Le Monde Diplomatique
‘The unsettling culmination leaves ripples for years to come.’ — Fiona Vigo Marshall, author of Find Me Falling
Average rating from 28 members
Atlantic Winds is a pocket sized novella by William Prendiville and part of indie publisher Fairlight Books' "Moderns" series (an admirable series intended to support emerging writers of literary fiction).
The story takes place in 1970s Canada in the troubled logging town of Bear Lake. Layoffs, strikes, and union politics play backdrop to the coming of age tale of Tom and Sasha, two young town residents whose courtship is intrinsically tied into the town's struggles. Sasha is the daughter of the mill foreman, while Tom dreads never being able to escape the small town and being stuck at the mill when he gets older. Small town atmosphere dominates the proceedings: gossip is rife, everyone knows everyone, and secrets are hard to keep for long, leading to a combustible, poignant, and slightly disturbing denouement.
While the book may be small (I read it in a little less than an hour), it's sustained by lyrical prose and deep characterization, and is a worthy representation of the goal of Fairlight's Moderns series.
**I was given a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Fairlight Books.**
William Prendiville’s debut novella Atlantic Winds is set in the 1970s in the small island community of Bear Lake, off mainland Canada. It opens with an ominous prologue, as a one-time resident of the town returns and visits a grave at the cemetery. In contrast, the ensuing chapters of the novella evoke a wistful, tender atmosphere, centred as they are around teenagers Tom and Sasha’s first attempts at love. The growth of their relationship has something bucolic about it: nurtured by the play of the changing seasons, at its idyllic best amidst natural surroundings.
However, this coming-of-age story also develops against the backdrop of civil unrest in the town of Bear Lake, which relies for its economic survival on the beleaguered logging industry. As employees are laid off and unions escalate industrial action, the tension rises in a community which is already prone to gossip and divisions. Sasha’s father is a factory foreman and Tom longs to get away from it all. It will take all of the young lovers’ efforts to avoid getting sucked into this incendiary vortex.
Atlantic Winds is a little gem. Its writing is lyrical, characters are well-drawn, the dialogue convincing and the plot has some unexpected turns. By its poignant conclusion, it was reminding me of the verismo operas of the early 20th Century or the short stories of Giovanni Verga. Admittedly, this comparison might seem unlikely applied to a contemporary novella by an Irish-born, Paris-based writer. Since I would like to avoid spoilers, I invite you to read the work for yourself and see whether or not you agree.
Classic writing for grown-up readers.
Proper literature in a mini book which says so little aside from its enduring characters; and leaves so much with the reader in the reading.
Nothing is settled or too clear in this fine novella; just a simple tale of growing up in a town that is dying around them. Living in an area of logging; young lives are blighted by a contracting industry, fewer jobs for parents and little future in their hometown.
A familiar story of many communities across our post-industrial world. Here in Bear Lake surrounded by trees it is that timber and the logging mills that provide economic stability and rumours and a spreading contraction means fewer jobs, less prospects and unemployed young men turning to drugs and alcohol. This is re-enforced by fine writing where the physical geography mirrors the economic constraints.
Poignant and lyrical in it’s interactions and dialogue, this is writing at its best as it never wastes words in political tirade or social comment. It provides a story of real people, their choices, their impotence to adjust and their entrapment in circumstances and island life that few have the capacity to change.
Told mainly through the lives of Tom, his childhood crush Sasha and their extended friends and family.
I was moved by the general consensus to accept death and decay, within the people ‘s lives and the community’s soul. I found myself drawn to these young people, their frustrations, friendships and fragile aspirations. I loved the sense of a small community mindset, all seeing, all knowing and yet with little judicial intervention.
Beautifully told, never predictable and with many unexpected turns, that breaks our moral stance and emotional investment.
Moved my heart and mind and introduced an author whose name will now stand out as my kind of writer.
Readers who liked this book also liked:
Edited by Sid Holt for the American Society of Magazine Editors; introduction by Jeffrey Goldberg.