Saturday, 3 September 2016

Lauchlin of the Bad Heart

Finished August 22
Lauchlin of the Bad Heart by D.R. MacDonald

This novel, set in rural Cape Breton, has at its center middle-aged Lauchlin MacLean. Lauchlin was near the beginning of a promising boxing career when his heart condition forced him to step back. He taught school for a while, but didn't enjoy it, and moved home to help manage the store his father started and his mother ran after his father's death.
Lauchlin had started a relationship with a local girl, Morag, when they were both young, that never really progressed despite their strong attraction and Morag's interest in more.
Lauchlin seems a man caught in limbo, reliving his past in his head while keeping in shape using the bag hanging in the back room of the store, having a series of casual relationships that never lead to anything permanent.
His older brother Frank, a doctor, has a yearning to travel back to Ireland to look for family roots and wants Lauchlin to go with him, but Lauchlin is reluctant to leave for reasons he can't clearly articulate. One of Lauchlin's friends, Clement MacTavish, married recently and his wife Tena went blind soon after. She is an independent spirit who isn't willing to sit at home and as she ventures out, she and Lauchlin begin a friendship.
This book shows us the history of the area, with the mountain homes gradually disappearing as the older generation died off, We see Lauchlin's relationship to that history, with his own family, and his neighbours. And we see the newcomers who bring new ideas, new needs and new issues. A novel of issues of the heart in numerous ways.

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