Saturday, April 5, 2008

BOOK: Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark

Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark

Canadian Book Challenge: Newfoundland and Labrador

Do you like the movie Titanic? Does the shipwreck fascinate you? This will be a good book for you. A baby in a basket is found floating on an ice pan off the shore of Newfoundland. While the family tries to find who she belongs to , she is never claimed, so she grows up in the outports of Newfoundland. Aurora, as she is named, marries, has children, and this book follows their lives.

Aurora's story is told in the first person, and the rest of the book in in third, which I found a little abrupt at times. Aurora could have a paragraph in the middle of the rest of the narrative, and her story of her is eventually told from her conception onward, which was also a little weird. Maybe due to her start in life floating in the North Atlantic, Aurora just takes what life gives her, and is not ambitious in any way. She floats along and does her own thing. Her children are more academic and study and travel the world, but home is always Newfoundland.

I think as I was reading I thought there would be more story, more to the investigation of who Aurora was before the sinking, and who her family had been, but the story just floats like Aurora did. That didn't make it a bad story, but just a character study of a family, where nothing too major happened. The timeline of the story worked very well, starting with Aurora being found and her life growing, and then her children's stories. The story switched then to the events leading up to the sinking of the Titanic and her parents, and finally ending up in the present, at the end of Aurora's life.

Clark does a wonderful job of creating interesting characters and evoking the feel of Newfoundland and telling one possible story of a family on the Titanic.


  1. I think I just read your comment note for the first time--thanks for the laugh! I actually took mine off for a little bit because it bugged me, but as soon as I did I started getting spammed. *Sigh*

    Sounds like a fascinating book. I'm going to read Shipping News soon--isn't that Newfoundland? I'd really like to make it to that part of Canada one day. We're going to Toronto in August and I tried to convince everyone to make the trek to Quebec City (for the 400th anni), but didn't have any takers. Quebec is as far east as I've been, but that was years and years and years ago.

  2. You know, you lost me when you asked if I liked Titanic. I think I'm one of the few people in the world that actually HATED that movie!!

    But I'm glad you liked the book! Nice review!

  3. trish - Shipping News is Newfoundland, and I read it years ago. It's a little odd, but it's Newfoundland!
    Enjoy your trip to Toronto. I was only there once when I was 11 on a family trip.

    stephanie - it's not all Titanic, but it plays a big part. and having seen the movie, I could see it all happening. I liked the movie, but all I could think of was how many ways there were to die on the ship.

  4. I enjoyed the book, but I didn't like how the mystery seemed to be dropped.

    As for the Shipping News. It's not Newfoundland, it's "Newfoundland."

  5. I thought I'd left a comment earlier, but it's sure not here, is it? Sometimes I forget to check if blogger accepted my comment - just hit return and move on. I'm trying to be more careful.

    I really liked Latitudes of Melt and felt it depicted Newfoundland much better than Shipping News, which I thought was a bizarre book about bizarre people.

  6. john - That's what I meant by it wan't so much of a story, it seemed like there should have been more mystery in finding her family, instead of just announcing it.

    booklogged - I've had the same trouble at your site, thinking I've left messages and then it not being there. We must just be trying to talk telepathically.

    I read The Shipping News years ago, but remembering wondering what all the fuss was about, because it didn't really catch me. I much preferred Random Passage at the time.


Thanks for commenting, so nice of you to visit.

(I'll try without the letters for a while - so please dont be a spammer! Let's try no anonymous users)