Read This Then That: Characters on Vacation

August 13, 2015

With what seems like 6 plus months of winter, vacation—summer or otherwise—feels like a well-deserved opportunity to be carefree, whatever that means to you. In both When Fenelon Falls and Not Being on a Boat we meet characters on vacation but not everything is as carefree and easy as your vacations this summer have, hopefully, been.

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Read This: When Fenelon Falls by Dorothy Ellen Palmer (Coach House Books)

Then That: Not Being on a Boat by Esme Claire Keith (Freehand Books)

With what seems like 6 plus months of winter, vacation—summer or otherwise—feels like a well-deserved opportunity to be carefree, whatever that means to you. In both When Fenelon Falls and Not Being on a Boat we meet characters on vacation but not everything is as carefree and easy as your vacations this summer have, hopefully, been.

When Fenelon Falls follows the adventures of the March family at their cottage in the Kawarthas. It’s the summer of 1969 and the entire extended family has made the trek to the cottage, where they are not locals but not quite tourists either. It’s not all songs of the summer, lazy days of reading worn paperbacks, or family car games; there is a dark undercurrent as young Jordan May March, who was adopted, imagines the story of her conception and plots to free a bear that has been caged for tourist entertainment. With snappy March-speak and a strong sense of time and place, When Fenelon Falls will bring all the best and worst aspects of family holidays to mind.

While When Fenelon Falls brings back the nostalgia of youth, Not Being on a Boat may be the type of vacation some of us are still striving for—an around the world all-inclusive cruise, complete with G & Ts and tuxedos. But like all vacations there are some hallmark features that everyone who has gone on vacation will recognize: figuring out what to pack, finding your way around a new place, and being stuck with some people you would never be friends with in real life. However, not everything is cigars and dinner at the captain’s table, like Fenelon Falls there is a dark undercurrent that runs beneath the surface of Not Being on a Boat. After a day trip into port our narrator, Rutledge, begins to notice that the boat is a little less crowded, crewmembers are scarce, and the menu is thinning out. Hilarity ensues for the reader, but to Rutledge this is just unacceptable.

Whether you’ve spent the summer by the lake with your family or have gone to a tropical paradise for some much needed respite, summer vacation will likely have some ups and downs but overall will leave you with fond memories. The characters from When Fenelon Falls and Not Being on a Boat will also provide some great memories, whether that’s a great soundtrack to your summer or a reminder that a cruise may not be the best idea for some people.

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