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The Island Walkers by John Bemrose


The Island Walkers by John Bemrose

For generations, the Walkers have lived in the Island, a small, working class mill-town beside Ontario's Attawan River. But in the summer of 1965 their peace is shattered. When a union organiser comes to town, Alf Walker is forced to choose between loyalty to his friends and advancement up the company ranks. His decision threatens to overwhelm not only his own life, but also his family. Through the course of the book, we come to know the Walkers intimately - Alf, as he attempts to keep ahead of these turbulent events; his son Joe, whose world is overturned by the passion and uncertainty of young love; and his wife Margaret, who must reconcile her English upbringing with the world in which she finds herself. The Island Walkers is a deeply moving novel of a family struggling to make its way through a changing world. Written with remarkable understanding and perception, it reveals a writer of rare vision and accomplishment.


Bemrose's novel, while not short on incident, keeps its well-drawn characters firmly to the fore, marking its author as a noteworthy observer of human frailty. * The Times * Highly readable and shot through with a warmth that never quite bubbles over into sentimentality * The Independent on Sunday * An exceptionally well-drawn family drama ...''His style is compelling * Town & Village Times * 'Lyrical, sensual prose permeates John Bemrose's moving debut novel'. * Waterstone's Books Quarterly * The book casts an irresistible spell * Northern Woman * Astonishingly self-possessed ... Bemrose lingers over domestic details, but this Hardian sense of doom is only reinforced by the sinister still lifes that he sketches so well. The Island Walkers is so momentously bound with its backdrop that its reach feels epic. * Observer * This is a lyrical novel with a strong sense of place. * Newbooksmag * A well-written, well-constructed novel. John Bemrose's characters are so firmly established they are permitted occasionally to act against type. They live as real people live * TLS * The storyline is taut, almost unbearably so at times, from the opening pages * Maclean's * An extraordinary debut novel . . . an exceptional storytelling talent * Toronto Globe and Mail * A compelling tale ... Peppered with poetic descriptions and loaded imagery, John Bemrose's novel is beautifully written ... It's not all doom and gloom, with moments of wild abandon and joy often bursting unexpectedly into the picture to ease the tension ... Moving, warm and ultimately positive * The List * The Island Walkers is a beguiling, melancholy ensemble piece which manages ... not to oversimplify the complex issues involved. * The Big Issue * In The Island Walkers, John Bemrose tells a compelling human story with such an unmistakable sense of place that the reader could be forgiven for wondering why we haven't heard of this clearly accomplished novelist before...[this] beautifully crafted debut novel...should earn [Bemrose] a place in the Canlit pantheon * Edmonton Journal * A deeply atmospheric debut from John Bemrose. It stands for unspoken emotion, stoicism, occasionally contentment ... Bemrose's prose is elegant, his images well chosen ... Existential themes of endurance and anxiety are subtly woven into a languid narrative which is at the same time robust enough to examine issues of class, passion, betrayal and disintegration. * Literary Review * The surprise hit of Canada's fall fiction list * Ottawa Citizen * The lyrical prose style wins you over. It's not often that you find writing as good as this ... Bemrose combines a fine storytelling talent with an evocative sense of place. * Daily Mail * A closely knit family drama ... achieves a real lyrical power, bolstered by a delicately understated prose style * The Times * The Island Walkers is a well-written, well-constructed novel. John Bemrose's characters are so firmly established they are permitted occasionally to act against type. They live as real people live. * Times Literary Supplement *

About the Author

John Bemrose is a well-known arts journalist in Canada. He grew up in Ontario, the place that inspired the setting for The Island Walkers, and now lives in Toronto. He has also lived in London. The Island Walkers is his first novel, and he is at work on his second.

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Book Info

Publication date

11th April 2005


John Bemrose

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John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton General Division


448 pages


Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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