Local tale features many odd characters

If you are a fan of Canadian literature, then this may be the book for you.

The Shore Girl

By Fran Kimmell

$19.95 NeWest Press

If you are a fan of Canadian literature, then this may be the book for you.

The author is from Lacombe, the setting is Alberta (all points) and the pumpjacks dot the landscape throughout the story.

The writing here is smooth and readable, but the story is bleak with many odd characters.

The real story begins with Judge Shore, a widower with two small children, Victoria and Elizabeth. His wife died giving birth to Elizabeth, leaving him bitter and stern, but now the girls are grown. Victoria left home early, running from too many rules; Elizabeth leaves when she gives birth at age 16, to Rebee, a little girl.

Something happens to put Elizabeth on the run — she and her small child live all over Alberta. If they attract attention in one place, they go somewhere else. No one suspects her of any thing but this “pick up and leave life” becomes a pattern, and Rebee does not lead a normal life. She grows shy and careful.

Their nomadic life is made possible by deposits from the Judge into Elizabeth’s bank account. Elizabeth now calls herself “Harmony” and does not allow anyone to get close to her and Rebee.

Aunt Vic works in an Alberta bar, which requires her to wear high heels, so her feet hurt, and she’s a drinker.

Mrs. Neilson is now an old woman, but she cared for the Judge’s children when they were young. She’s in poor health and has become a hoarder.

Rebee does not always go to school, but Miss Bel teaches her in Winter Lake, N.W.T. Miss Bel is in the wrong job, and her despair and loneliness are leading her to a mental breakdown.

When Jake the oilman shows up, there is a glimmer of hope for Harmony and Rebee. He’s a decent type, with lots of money, and he’s attracted to this unusual pair. He’s also trying to locate his brother Matt, who has disappeared, maybe by choice.

Finally we have Carla and Joey. Carla was once fostered by Mrs. Neilson, now she has found religion, and means to park Joey (13) with old “granny” Neilson while she saves the Africans.

Joey is even more neglected than Rebee, and when he’s nervous, as he is most of the time, he suffers explosive vomiting.

As you can see, this is not a happy story, and there are mysteries here.

Why would someone so discordant wish to be known as Harmony?

What did the missing Uncle Matt bring to the story?

Could Aunt Vic find work in a bar where she could wear runners?

When Rebee finally finds a real home to live in, how does she live with no income?

Although Rebee becomes tough, she has missed so much that is normal for a child that there is little hope that she find happiness.

This is Kimmel’s first novel. It is a complicated yarn, a bit crowded with unfortunate folks.

Peggy Freeman is a local freelance book reviewer.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Need a knife? There are knives of all shapes and sizes at The Kitchen Store.
Hints from Heloise: Finding a good set of kitchen knives

Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Most Read