Book Review by Kip Hansen – December 1, 2020
Susan J. Crockford – biologist, author and bone whisperer – released her latest fiction today: "UPHEAVAL – A Short Novel".
(Right now available on Amazon in Kindle e-book and paperback formats)
Here is the leader of Dr. Crockford:
86-year-old Duff Gillies didn't want to die without telling the story he witnessed during the great sea ice tsunami that devastated Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in 2026. That was the winter he'd agreed to accept young Izzy Walker as his student aboard the Ice Queen and the year polar bears first invaded the Gulf of St. Lawrence. After an unsettling encounter with polar bears on the ice, Duff thought he had seen it all, but then three ice-covered waves turned his calm maritime existence upside down. He and Izzy were asked to help a good friend rescue his brother and saw firsthand the devastating toll the tsunami had taken. But Duff had an experience that no one else had had that haunted him. This fictional first person account of the largest tsunami disaster ever struck a North American coast is a story you won't want to miss. It's a short novel that will amaze you about the destructive power a tsunami can muster when it bonds with a thick sheet of sea ice. " – Source
This is a great little book – short enough at 159 pages to read in a single bout of insomnia, or to have a pleasant afternoon or long evening on a cold, rainy winter's day (which is exactly what I did the moment I got my pre-copy received).
The story takes place in a part of the world I've never visited, but I had no problem visualizing it from Crockford's almost cinematic prose:
This map, which is included in the book, will help those who are not familiar with the area to find their way around. Those familiar with the sea will immediately see the possibilities offered by the geography of the Cabot Strait between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia – our protagonists live on the northeast-facing shores of Cape Breton Island in Neil's Harbor on Sydney Bight . As Buchwitz has already shown, an earthquake called "Epicenter" takes place off the southwest coast of Newfoundland.
I always find that maps help me understand a story that is taking place in a larger area. I offer this representation of the geography – the nautical map of the north / south ports with a detail of the Dingwall port. As you read the book, you can use this as a detailed reference:
Dingwall Harbor is less than half a mile long – and sees plenty of action. Neil's Port, Duff's home port, is south of the point in the lower right corner of the table above.
I know that geologists and geographers read here. I'll have them explain in the comments the consequences to be expected from the quake – and the resulting tsunami – and geography. Having spent roughly half of my adult life aboard ships and boats at sea, I can personally attest to the authenticity of the nautical details in the book.
The book is full of fascinating details of the seal hunting life in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, hunting on the changing and ever-changing ice. It's insightful and will add to the reader's experience. And it reveals the inner workings and thoughts of an old man by the sea who grapples with forces of nature that can humiliate even a man with infinite confidence.
After presenting the story as a re-collection of an old man trapped in nursing homes by the restrictions imposed after the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and restricting visitors to once a month – let's read what Duff Gillies records on tape so that his grandson can transcribe it -. his never-before-told story of his personal experiences during the ice tsunami on Cape Breton Island in 2026 (five years in our future),
Regardless of your interests, you will find this book rewarding and fulfilling to read. You will not be disappointed.
Boats, adventures, the sea in winter … and did I mention polar bears? Yes, there are polar bears ready and willing to act. Who could possibly ask for more?
I read a lot. I write some. And I recommend this book to anyone looking for this rare commodity – one simple thing Read well.
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