Canada Reads 2013 Book Review: The Age of Hope

Author: David Bergen

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

Date Published: August 24th, 2012

Format: Hardcover

Source: Borrowed from Ardo

Synopsis:

Born in 1930 in a small town outside Winnipeg, beautiful Hope Koop appears destined to have a conventional life. Church, marriage to a steady young man, children – her fortunes are already laid out for her, as are the shiny modern appliances in her new home. All she has to do is stay with Roy, who loves her. But as the decades unfold, what seems to be a safe, predictable existence overwhelms Hope. Where – among the demands of her children, the expectations of her husband and the challenges of her best friend, Emily, who has just read The Feminine Mystique – is there room for her? And just who is she anyway? A wife, a mother, a woman whose life is somehow unrealized?

This beautifully crafted and perceptive work of fiction spans some fifty years of Hope Koop’s life in the second half of the 20th century, from traditionalism to feminism and beyond. David Bergen has created an indelible portrait of a seemingly ordinary woman who struggles to accept herself as she is, and in so doing becomes unique.

Number of Days It Took to Read: 4

Cover:

13690590

Defended by:

ron-200

Ron MacLean, sportscaster

Writing Score: 4 out of 5

Recommendation: A causal perusal

Memorable or Forgettable: Forgettable

Rating: 3 out 5

Review:

Pros:

Let me start off by saying that the writing in this book was great. I felt that the authour made an interest choice in using a third person omniscient narrator to tell Hope’s story. It allows the reader to peer into her personal life and experience everything Hope felt right beside her. When it comes down to it, the writing was what kept me reading. I also loved the way the relationships between Hope’s children were portrayed. I felt that their relationships with each other was well done and the fact that they had to stepped up and take care of each other when Hope was gone was described in a realistic but matter of fact way as if while they were caring for one another they still fought like any other siblings. Finally being an avid reader I loved the part where Hope implements a rule in her house about how her children did not have to do chores if they were reading a book. If only my parents had the same rule then I would never have to do chores.

Cons:

Now for the cons; despite solid writing for the majority of the book, I found that there was not much of a storyline or plot in The Age of Hope. Instead the story follows Hope through the various eras that she lives through. Living an ordinary and somewhat mundane life was often depressing even if it was not melodramatic (with the exception of a few extreme examples meant that the story of Hope’s life). As well, while I could understand many of the feelings Hope felt throughout the book (as they were not unwarranted), I still felt it was difficult to like her as a protagonist. With regards to the characters in the book, I felt that their appearance was flat, especially the male characters (who mostly stayed in the background). In addition, I did not really like how the female characters were portrayed – even though some may say that it is because of the era that the book takes place. Although I can understand the historical and social context of the story, I do believe that the characters could have been given more depth to make them stronger characters or at least more complex, multi-layered characters.

Anyways so that’s what I thought of The Age of Hope. For those that have read it, what did you guys think? Was The Age of Hope in your opinion Canada Reads worthy?

The opinions expressed in this review are my own; I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this review.

– Linh

2 thoughts on “Canada Reads 2013 Book Review: The Age of Hope

  1. Though a love a lot of adult literary fiction my biggest problem in it is the lack of a real plot. I always want a more concrete story line and sometimes no amount of fabulous writing can make up for that

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