No Great Mischief

No Great Mischief

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
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Baker & Taylor
After being orphaned, Alexander MacDonald comes to Cape Breton Island yearning for family connections and finds himself working in the mines with his wild older brother and caring for another brother, who is dying

Norton Pub
A haunting, luminous novel of family, loyalty, and exile by the author Michael Ondaatje calls "one of the great undiscovered writers of our time." In 1779 Calum MacDonald set sail in exile from the Highlands of Scotland with his wife and twelve children, along with the dog who would not be left behind and swam after the departing boat. After a catastrophic crossing he landed in the New World at Cape Breton, by which time he had become a widower and a grandfather. Two hundred years later, another MacDonald tells the story of coming of age in that same bleak Cape Breton landscape. Alexander is orphaned by a cruel accident on the ice, and his yearning for connection with family produces two of the most vivid narrative strands: a summer spent in the mines with his wild older brothers that ends in murder and, much later, his tender care for one of those brothers, now a dying alcoholic. The first lesson Alexander learns from his grandmother is "Always look after your blood." But, as revealed in the elegant twining of this tale, blood and history are all but inescapable for the MacDonalds. The brothers still speak Gaelic to each other; legends lurk at the edge of the simplest conversation; language and music are themselves links to a heroic, defeated past.

Blackwell North Amer
In 1779 Calum MacDonald set sail in exile from the Highlands of Scotland with his wife and twelve children, along with the dog who would not be left behind and swam after the departing boat. After a catastrophic crossing he landed in the New World at Cape Breton, by which time he had become a widower and a grandfather.
Two hundred years later, another MacDonald tells the story of coming of age in that same bleak Cape Breton landscape. Alexander is orphaned by a cruel accident on the ice, and his yearning for connection with family produces two of the most vivid narrative strands: a summer spent in the mines with his wild older brothers that ends in murder and, much later, his tender care for one of those brothers, now a dying alcoholic.
The first lesson Alexander learns from his grandmother is "Always look after your blood." But, as revealed in this tale, blood and history are all but inescapable for the MacDonalds.

Baker
& Taylor

Alexander MacDonald, an orphaned youth in Cape Briton, spends a summer in the mines with his wild older brothers during a season that ends in murder. A first novel. 25,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 2000
Edition: 1st American ed
ISBN: 9780393049701
0393049701
Branch Call Number: FICTION MACLEOD
Characteristics: 283 p. ; 25 cm

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WVMLStaffPicks Dec 11, 2014

A beautiful novel by an under-appreciated Canadian writer, which traces a family of Cape Bretoners back to their Scottish roots and the Battle of Culloden, and forward to the present day. Good fortune and bad, humour and tragedy are all explored with a compassionate and authentic voice.

m
mclarjh
Jun 09, 2014

I've read it twice. A Nice Canadian novel. A little repetitive. Easy to read (not challenging). A little dated.

v
vwruleschick
May 16, 2013

You meet Alexander as he visits his older, alcoholic brother, Calum. Whereby he gives you glimpses into his current life, as well as, tells his story from where it began hundreds of years earlier to help you understand his family or clan, and how they relate to each other. His story tells of heartache, loss, love, warmth, survival, and belonging to the Donald clan is more than just skin deep. Enjoyed.

2
21221018293347
Jul 04, 2011

A family history that recounts the ties between father and sons; and brothers. The great grandfather immigrates to Cape Breton with his twelve children (losing his wife on the voyage). They come and settle in to Cape Breton. This book provides a history of family, and tales of family ties, that span several generations. It is interesting the ties that keep the family together - no matter what. A well written, memorable book.

j
jbeckber
May 06, 2011

Wonderful book! I have been reading this year's Giller Prize short-listed books and felt frustrated. I picked this up by chance and this is exactly what I felt I was missing! I loved the storytelling, the relation of the immigrant experience, the love of family.

s
Spillie
May 05, 2010

An enjoyable read that captures the immigrant experience in Canada.

d
Darrelln
Feb 27, 2010

Good read from the Maritimes

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