The Quarryman's Girl
by Melanie Forde
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Pub Date 21 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 01 Nov 2022
Life seemed to be winding down for French–Canadian immigrant Rose Dowd. She had not been fighting the inevitable until Fate forced her to gear up for yet another chapter.
Much like her adopted country, as America begins staking out a new international role in World War II, Rose must reinvent herself.
Quickly. Before she can move forward, however, she needs to absorb the lessons from her past. Integral to that journey are Rose’s sharp-tongued sister Izzy; her perpetually worried son Vince, a resourceful shipyard worker; her long-dead Métis mentor Mère Agathe; her bright and bubbly but sickly granddaughter Netty; and Nate, the “Ragman’s Grandson,” a club-footed, pre-law student dreading his future and inching instead toward a career as a writer.
The Quarryman’s Girl follows these vivid characters from the 1880s to the 1940s, from the hard-scrabble pig farms of Quebec to the granite quarries of Quincy, from the frozen St. Lawrence to the deep-channel Fore River.
A compelling story from beginning to end, once again Melanie Forde has shown why she is a consummate storyteller and one of contemporary America’s finest writers.
"The Quarryman's Girl will especially engage the children of immigrants, and those of us from blue-collar backgrounds. Author Melanie Forde loves her characters and depicts them living the lives that working class folk live. The details are rich and true to life. Forde's novel hums with the kind of stories our parents and grandparents told. Her novel is our story.
From Danusha Goska, author of God Through Binoculars
Average rating from 2 members
Rose Dowd has Vince, her youngest son, to help her meet day-to-day challenges since her husband passed on. As teens, she and estranged sister Izzy were left in Quincy after her large Irish family left Quebec and Quincy for Manitoba.
There are a number of threads interweaving through the well-paced and plotted narrative and we get to know each of the fully fleshed characters, care about them, invest in them. Descriptions of scenes are well drawn.
Nate, the “Ragman’s Son” is sent to perform handyman jobs at Rose’s home and report to Vince her slips of memory. Izzy, her sharp tongue alienating more than immediate family, has a crisis of her own that may force Rose to deal with the upheaval that caused their catastrophic rift so many years ago.
Oh, so bittersweet, examining the hurts, the love, the physical as well as the mental constraints that bind family and friends as easily as isolate. A unique story that scrutinizes senior cognitive decline, betrayal, aspirations, and hopefully reconciliation.
The tension builds with raw emotion alternately filled with wry pops of humor. It’s written in an intelligent, sensitive, and articulate style that pulls in the reader and doesn’t let go. The conclusion is both heartbreaking and tearfully satisfying and is heartily recommended. Not just family drama. Truly literary magic.