The Order of Good Cheer

The Order of Good Cheer

A Novel

Book - 2008
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Indian summer, 1607. Intrepid explorer and map-maker Samuel de Champlain has founded a new and precarious settlement in Annapolis Royal, New France (present-day Nova Scotia). As winter looms, two threats emerge: boredom amongst the men and the deadly sickness scurvy. Champlain hits upon the idea of a moveable feast -- an order of "good cheer" -- where nobles and men can enjoy good local food, excellent wine, and camaraderie.Separated by the breadth of a continent and exactly four hundred years is twenty-first-century blue-collar worker Andy Winslow and his friends, whose urban landscape is threatened by encroaching environmental and economic disaster. In alternating narratives, award winning author and master storyteller Bill Gaston bridges the divide across land and time in this illuminating story about survival, love, friendship, and feast.
Publisher: Toronto : Anansi, 2008
ISBN: 9780887842009
Branch Call Number: GAS
Characteristics: 388 p. ;,21 cm


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melwyk May 01, 2012

It's set partially in modern-day Prince Rupert, a small town in Northern B.C., and partially in Nova Scotia in 1606/1607. In this era, Champlain and his compatriots were trying to create a settlement in the new world for France. Champlain is the main character, sort of, in his part of the book. To counteract the boredom and bad feelings and fear of disease, he decides that the best route is to party. He creates the Order of Good Cheer (this is based in historical fact) and each night a different person is responsible for creating entertainment. This gets them through the dark days despite difficulty and despair.

Meanwhile, in present day B.C., Andy is having a bit of a midlife crisis. Never married, he has remained in his hometown and works at the local mill, a job that both pays well and allows him hours of reading time. Andy is currently reading Champlain's memoirs, and is inspired to cheer up everyone and create a gathering which encompasses all the characters we've met throughout his story.

I appreciated the struggle of these two men to make sense of their lives and surroundings, their determination to make the best of things and do something to improve morale in their own circles. Each person in the story had their own particular life, their own particular struggles, but coming together in community made a difference to them. And I think that that idea is still a good one, and a useful one, as we all face our own difficulties. This book was altogether an unexpected find and a serendipitous one. I thought it was a great read.

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