“February” by Lisa Moore

There are not many lively books written about the aftermath of grief. Lisa Moore, the Newfoundland novelist, does this in February.

In 1982, the oil rig “Ocean Ranger” sank off the coast of Newfoundland, killing all 84 men aboard. Helen O’Mara lost her husband, Cal, with whom she had a very close marriage and four children. She carries on, letting the children grow up, take chances, make mistakes, her only approach to parenting being “Because I said so.” When her son’s girlfriend becomes pregnant, however, she tells him: “There’s nothing to know – just come home.”

The book is funny as well as touching. Helen is stood up in a bar one evening after joining a dating service. She is realistic about her need to be close to someone and frightened about gradually learning not to be. One reviewer writes: “You’ll be surprised at this novel’s ability to uplift.” The happy ending is convincing and, like the rest of the book, totally unsentimental.

Lisa Moore won world prizes for an earlier novel, Alligator. She lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and writes short stories. This is a paperback edition of February which came out in 2009.

Review by Anne McDougall

“February” was named the winner of Canada Reads 2013 on CBC radio.