The Friends of Meager Fortune

The Friends of Meager Fortune

Book - 2006
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Growing up in a prominent lumber family in the Miramichi, brothers Will and Owen Jameson know little of the world beyond their town and the great men who work the forest, including their father. But as young men, the boys couldn't be more different -- where seventeen-year-old Will is headstrong and rugged, able to hold his own in the woods or in a fight, Owen, three years his junior, is literary and sensitive. What worries their mother Mary, however, is the prophecy told to her by a local woman upon Will's birth: "that her first-born would be a powerful man and have much respect -- but his brother would be even greater, yet destroy the legacy by rashness, and the Jameson dynasty [would] not go beyond that second boy." She tries to laugh it off, but the prophecy becomes a part of local legend and hangs over the heads of the boys like a dark cloud. When their father dies in a freak accident and the management of the Jameson tracts and company falters, Will, as the true inheritor of his father's "shrewd mind and fists to match," quits school to take over. He's a strong leader of men, but perhaps too strong at times, and dies while clearing a log jam during a run. Reggie Glidden, Will's best friend and the Push of the Jameson team, takes Owen under his wing, searching for any small sign that the younger boy has his brother's qualities. But Owen knows his limitations and, after his brother's death and then rejection by the girl of his dreams, Lula Brower, he joins the army and heads off to war hoping to get himself killed. Instead, he returns a decorated war hero. Then he falls in love with the beautiful, childlike Camellia -- the wife of Reggie Glidden -- and soon Owen and Camellia find themselves watched on all sides, caught in the teeth of an entire town's gossip and hypocrisy despite the innocence of their relationship. But for the community, it's as if taking Owen Jameson -- and therefore the whole Jameson family -- down a peg or two will give them control over their changing world. Inexorably, Owen and Camellia are pulled into a chain of events that will end with death, disappearance, and a sensational trial. At the same time, realizing his destiny, Owen takes over the family business and begins what will become the greatest cut in New Brunswick history, his men setting up camp on the notoriously dangerous Good Friday Mountain. The teamsters spend months in fierce ice and snow, daily pitting themselves against nature and risking their lives for scant reward, in the last moments before the coming of mechanization that will make them obsolete. This heroic, brutal life is all Meager Fortune, the camp keeper, knows. A good and innocent man, he shows unexpected resolution in the face of the betrayals of the more worldly men around him. WithThe Friends of Meager Fortune, award-winning author David Adams Richards continues his exploration of New Brunswick's Miramichi Valley, both the hard lives and experiences that emerge from that particular soil and the universal human matters that concern us all: the work of the hands and the heart; the nature of true greatness and true weakness; the relentlessness of fate and the good and evil that men and women do. It is a devastating portrait of a society, but it is also a brilliant commemoration of the passing of a world -- one that cements David Adams Richards' place as the finest novelist at work in Canada today.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Doubleday Canada, c2006
ISBN: 9780385660945
Branch Call Number: RIC
Characteristics: 366 p. ;,22 cm


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Jul 10, 2013

This book started out almost too slow for me, but I persevered and am glad I did. The two brothers, Will and Owen, have grown up in a lumber family in New Brunswick and although very different, carry on the family business. There are many levels to this story - the traditional vs technological harvest of trees, the pull of the world vs the draw of family expectations, the role of rumour in the perception of events, the tangle that love makes. I especially enjoyed the vivid descriptions of horse-logging in the frigid snowy winters and the river running of the logs in the spring. Amazing deeds in treacherous conditions.

May 13, 2013

The story of a lumber family set in the 1931s and 1940s, this excellent book chronicles the end of an era. It is Chekovian.

Apr 02, 2012

If you’ve read Richards’ very personal book "God Is", I think you will see that he's actually written a bit of himself into one of the characters in "Meager Fortune". Reading "God Is" may also help readers to understand some of the themes in this novel.

Oct 30, 2010

beautiful, evocative language and finely-drawn characters - humans and horses and trees. a tribute to a way of life once essential, but now indispensible in canada's history.

Dec 10, 2007

Quite an interesting and moving little book. A very different and shocking glimpse into the life of loggers in mid-twentieth century Canada. More than "real" it is almost surreal! it might have been entitled "Lives and Boys and Men in Logging Camps as they were being driven out of work by new technology and the women in their lives" or something like that, with a nod to Alice Munro. Great characters.

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