4 April 2011

Lunenburg Letters by Bobbi Lou Gray

Before I begin my review of this self published novel, you need to be aware of a HUGE caveat: The author happens to be a good friend of mine. She is one of the sweetest and most courageous women I know. So, what follows is an honest, fair review ... with a (hopefully) barely noticeable sprinkling of bias.

Bobbi Gray has written a saga of two families, friends for generations, who decide to emigrate to Canada. Most of the book is written in the form of letters exchanged between two characters who are star-crossed lovers. 

Lunenburg Letters is an ambitious debut novel. There are an, at times, overwhelming number of characters and sub-plots to keep interesting and active without confusing the reader. I'll admit there were times I got a little lost and had to search back in the book to figure out which family a character belonged to and where they were at that point in the story. For this reason, family trees and ship manifests added to the beginning of the book would have been helpful.

That said, from the first page of the book, I began to care for the characters and was drawn into the story. The history and setting were very well researched by the author and this came through in the writing. She managed to do an amazing job of giving each character his/her own distinct personality. There were times, through the middle of the novel, that I felt the narrative got somewhat sluggish but the bright beginning, and the storyline involving the young lovers, pulled me through the slower parts to a brilliant ending. The noticeable lack of contractions and use of formal English by the characters gave the feel of newly English speaking immigrants and their struggle to grasp the language. It also added to the feel of the times.

An interesting side note is that many of the characters have the names of actual people including the some of the author's own ancestors. However, the events are fictionalized. 
Realistically I would suggest an appropriate readership for Lunenburg Letters would range from about 12 years to adult.

This book is available for loan at the Strathcona County Library in the adult fiction section and also at Chapters in Sherwood Park.

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