Sunday, April 30, 2017

BOOK: The Age of Hope by David Bergen

The Age of Hope by David Bergen, 286 pages

This is the story of Hope Koop, born in 1930 in Manitoba. Her life as she passes from young adult hood, marriage, children, post-partem depression, the changing role of women, and into old age. Nothing much happens, as in most of our lives.

Overall the book made a little impression on me, and yet, it was very readable, like watching a movie with real people (neither unlikeable nor likeable). Bergen keeps the reader a little detached from most of the characters, even Hope. She is certainly given the most depth and inner thoughts, yet I never felt a huge connection to her.

The story covers the prime years of women enlightenment - Hope reads Betty Friedan and other awakening type books. She spends some time in an institution, getting shock therapy (mid '60s) after the fourth child, deals with her children coming of age in the 1970s, and suffers the aimlessness of some women who stayed home with their children and then wonder about their role, and life.

This reminded me of Larry's Party by Carol Shields. Set in Winnipeg, following the life of a unremarkable person, and written about the opposite sex character than the author. Shields' writing is a notch more remarkable, but The Age of Hope read for me a lot quicker. It's harder to quickly read Shields' wonderful prose.

It seems like I didn't like the book, but I did enjoy the read. It may not stay with me, but I'd read another Bergen book. Ron MacLean from Hockey Night in Canada defended this book for Canada Reads in 2013 and now I'd like to hear what he said in support of the book. I had only read two of the nominated books that year, so didn't really pay attention to the debates.