The Sentimentalists

The Sentimentalists

by Johanna Skibsrud


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393341638
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/09/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Johanna Skibsrud is the author of
The Sentimentalists, winner of the Scotiabank
Giller Prize, and This Will Be Difficult to Explain, as well as two poetry collections. She lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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The Sentimentalists 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
DianeBickers on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I felt obligated to read the The Sentimentalist when it won the Giller; I became obligated when it ended up as one of the Book Club selections. Not loving it. I find my mind wanders and I wonder what's going on as the plot unfolds upon itself. There is one bit I like, though, and that is the boat that was purchased with the intention to fix up and and then sits in the driveway for years. It moves when it is trailered from one place to another, floating along the driveway (and I imagine, sailing down the hiway). Reading this right after The Tale of the Unknown Island, the metaphor gains even more significance. I will go back to this again in August and give it another try....
mao21234 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Further to ajsomerset's review, I found this book annoyingly imprecise in its imagery. (Well noted, sometimes a sad horse just walks into a bar)For this sort of flowery impressionistic prose to work, the imagery needs to be spot on. Alas, it was not.The flooding of the St. Lawrence seaway was more expertly evoked by Anne Michaels in "The Winter Vault", to name one other author who does the poetic prose style well. Or see Mr. Ondaatje, who's reach often exceeds his grasp, but always startles us with interesting imagery.
Patrick311 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book comes with an odd but alluring pedigree. Not only did it win the prestigious Giller Prize, Canada's top literary honor, it did so after being published by a "micropublisher," Gaspereau Press, who originally printed a whopping 800 copies of the book. The book took down many more commercially imposing titles to win an award that has previously gone to literary titans like Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood. After its win, it became a hot item on the Kobo ebook platform, and now W.W. Norton is set to publish it here in the states later this year. How can you not love a story like that? This is the Milan High School basketball team of the literary world.So it's with some sadness that I say that I didn't love the book. It wasn't because it was a chore to read -- I read it in two sittings -- and that's not to say that there weren't many terrific aspects of it. For instance, I think the premise of the book is very intriguing. A woman decides to move her aging father from his home in Fargo, North Dakota, to the house where she spent many of her childhood summers, Casablanca, Ontario. Casablanca is a town that was moved in the 50s when a dam flooded the site of the original town. Consequently, there is a submerged town lurking nearby. While this image might strike you as a touch heavy-handed -- the past, submerged, but still so close -- Skibsrud doesn't over do it, and the result isn't a cloying whimsy, but a sense of mystery, of intrigue.That intrigue extends to the inhabitant of the narrator's father's new home, the so-called "government house," Henry. At first, Henry's relationship to her father is a secret, though it is revealed early on that the narrator's father was friends with Henry's son Owen, who died in a war. The narrator assumed that her father and Owen knew one another in childhood, but she soon discovers that her father, too, fought in a war. What happened to Owen? And what is the true nature of the narrator's father's relationship to Henry? That sounds great, doesn't it? It sounds like exactly the sort of book you'd like to read, right? Me too! But alas, I felt the second half of the book didn't fully make good on the promise of the opening. (I'll spoiler this part, as much of my discontentment with the book has to do with the plot.)Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- is really revealed in this book. What happened to Owen? He died in the war. Depending on who you believe, he was either killed in action or he was murdered by his fellow Marines for attempting to prevent a minor civilian massacre. This is probably my own fault, but I was convinced for most of the book that Napoleon (the narrator's father) was actually Henry's son, a sort of Canadian Don Draper. There really wasn't much evidence of this in the narrative, so it was probably my own wish-casting. Napoleon reconnects with Henry after years apart, and then takes to driving his family into Canada every summer. It just seemed like there had to be more. But the mystery that book promises, or seemed to promise, goes nowhere. It was a case of literary blue balls, so to speak.In addition to my issues with the plot, the prose was sometimes bewildering. There's no doubting that Skibsrud is a poet -- gorgeous imagery abounds here -- but at times, the book feels overwritten. Sentence after sentence unfurls in a series of complicated clauses that made the prose feel both idiosyncratic and repetitive; not a great combination.Still, there is much to be admired in this book, and I have no doubt that many will find its tone enchanting. Perhaps I put too much into some vague references early in the book and set myself up for disappointment. Whatever the case, I'm disappointed not to have loved this story.
slatta on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This is clearly the book of a poet. Skibsrud's writing style is always lyrical, often oblique, and occasionally infuriating. Many reviewers have commented on the author's love of commas, and there are times in which I found myself agreeing. That said, once I gave myself into the author's style, I was hooked. I think that, in the end, the stylistic challenges of the book are perfectly suited to the difficulties of interpreting the past.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
This debut novel, a sombre story of the unreliability of memory and the emotional ghosts of war won its author the prestigious Scotianbank Giller Prize in 2010. Skibsrub's background as a poet stands out immediately. The prose is heavy in precision, mainly focussing on words and turns of phrases and less on the action and character development. In my humble opinion this book is overwritten, it is composed with an astounding play on words and over use of adjectives that may be appealing to some but not all. The novel is narrated by an unnamed person who returns to stay with her father, a Vietnam War veteran. She recalls her father's life in a meandering voice that moves between the present and the past and shifts rather awkwardly between Fargo, ND and Casablanca, Ontario and the battlefields of Vietnam. The first half of the book was so tedious it fast became boring and I simply lost interest, only 200 pages and I couldn't stick with it till the end ...Something I rarely do...So in all fairness I leave others to be the judge.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago