“Consumption” by Kevin Patterson

This is an up-close look at White and Inuit people living together.

A beautiful Inuit girl, Victoria, marries but never really accepts
the Scot, Robertson, who runs the Hudson Bay store at Rankin Inlet.
She had contracted tuberculosis at age 6 and was sent south to Montreal
for care at a sanatorium. When she returned l0 years later, she
was torn apart by the two cultures, in spite of Robertson’s general
acceptance by the community, as well as their three children.

The author is a doctor and has practised for a number of years in
the North. He writes sharply and sensitively about the physician in
this book. He also has great understanding of the Inuit who had spent
some l0,000 years “on the land”,i.e. the tundra stretching back from the
west side of Hudson Bay ,and had trouble with schools, store-bought food
instead of walrus meat, prefabricated wooden houses which in high winds
are not as snug as an igloo.

The tension builds to considerable violence, which is not resolved
until the end of the book. The characters are very sympathetic and
though Patterson doesn’t pretend to solve the difficulties of our living
together, he paints a picture which makes the reader very much hope we do.

Review by Anne McDougall