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Consumption : a novel
Kevin Patterson
Adult Fiction PATTERS

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this powerful first novel, a beautiful Inuit woman spends her teen years in the 1960s in a Montreal TB sanitarium, learning French and mathematics from nuns. Upon returning to her Hudson Bay hamlet to live in a government-made dwelling, Victoria feels like a stranger "living in a kind of internal exile" and shudders at the taste of "half-rotted walrus meat." After getting pregnant by a Kablunauk (Inuktitut for white person), she marries him. Husband Robertson's ambition rankles the community to begin with, and when he accepts work from a South African mining company that wants to dig for diamonds in the frozen tundra, things come to a boiling point. Keith Balthazar, a doctor who comes to the community from New York, tends to Victoria's children in illness and gets unexpectedly entwined in the family's life. In language that is always sharp and sometimes mesmerizing, Patterson, author of a story collection and the memoir The Water in Between, seamlessly works murder, sex and intrigue into the mix and offers a terrific cast that makes arctic life, and the ties of kin, palpable. He delivers a searingly visceral message about love, loss and dislocation. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

At age ten, Victoria, a girl from the Arctic outpost of Rankin Inlet, is sent south to a sanitarium in Manitoba for treatment of tuberculosis. In her absence, diamond-mining interests and nonnative clergy, medical staff, and teachers seeking refuge from unsatisfied lives have moved up north and brought with them Western diseases and psychic alienation. The transformation of the Arctic from a place long accustomed to travel by dog sled, the hunting of sea animals for food, and the carving of shelter from the ice to one of heated tract houses, well-stocked refrigerators, and snowmobiles is underway. How the outsiders-including Robertson, the mine overseer who becomes Victoria's husband-adapt to life in the north is as affecting as the story of Victoria's difficult reentry. Tuberculosis is only one kind of consumption afflicting the people of Rankin Inlet-their spiritual erosion turns out to be the far graver threat. Patterson's (The Water in Between) hauntingly beautiful novel mourns the passing of a way of life not easily imagined. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/07.]-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Victoria Robertson
Age: 1950s-
Spent her teenage years in a Montreal sanitarium after being diagnosed with tuberculosis; learned French and mathematics from nuns; returned to her home to live in a government-made dwelling; finds her hometown radically changed; feels like a stranger living in exile; torn between her family and her ancestors.

Married to Victoria; accepts a job working with a South African mining company digging for diamonds.

Keith Balthazar
Comes to Victoria's community; gets involved in the Robertson's family's life.

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