Sinopsis de A GOOD HOUSE

It's not an easy thing to write a novel about a family. Of necessity--and as the narrative years advance--characters proliferate, success and tragedy accrue, events manoeuvre to the fore with faintly arbitrary impetus. It all feels a bit too unchosen, less story than chronicle. First-time novelist Bonnie Burnard, however, evades such worn grooves with the purest renunciation: a patient and lovely voice. In A Good House, awarded Canada's Giller Prize in 1999, Burnard documents an Ontario family over half a century with unadorned, deliberate and tender sympathy. Flush with post-World War II optimism, veteran Bill Chambers and his wife Sylvia settle in to the business of raising their three young children. Bill logs full days at the local hardware store; Sylvia strings the family's clothes out to dry in the backyard and proffers dinner punctually. Her wasting death, however, leaves her husband yearning for a stolen contentment and her children disquieted by the sudden tenuousness of their security. When Bill remarries, his staunch and pragmatic bride Margaret displays a tri-fold capacity: she allows him his sluggish and methodical affection; she preserves Sylvia's memory with untainted regard; and she cultivates a deft empathy with her stepchildren. Romance, careers and grandchildren crowd the accelerating years, the couple sustains a grateful wonder at the various degrees of affection they've bestowed. Burnard's meticulous pacing nearly, but never quite, upstages the story itself, although her unwieldy and expanding cast of characters occasionally threatens such harm. Margaret is the real wonder of the book. While the requisite affairs, divorces and funerals intervene--and as Bill declines excruciatingly into a belligerent stranger--she summons a reserve of affection whose source is admirably opaque. She perseveres in "hoping as mothers and fathers almost always do that the difficulties could be examined, could be broken apart and fixed one by one by one". Burnard's tale is dignified and generous. --Ben Guterson,

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