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

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

Alberta reported an additional 1,980 cases of COVID-19 Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer adds 37th death from COVID-19, active cases drop

Alberta Health identified an additional 1,980 cases of the virus province-wide

A rodeo south of Bowden drew a huge crowd on May 1 and 2, 2021. (Photo courtesy Mom’s Diner’s Facebook page)
FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

A man on a skateboard and a young woman pass large letters spelling out UBC at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on November 22, 2015. The federal government is writing off more than $200 million in outstanding student loan payments that officials will never be able to collect. Recently released spending documents show the government won't collect $203.5 million in debts from 34,240 students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. Human Rights Tribunal to hear complaint against UBC Okanagan

VANCOUVER — A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing is set to start… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday’s $25 million Lotto max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25 million jackpot… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

MADISON, Wis. — States asked the federal government this week to withhold… Continue reading

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas talks with his players during a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match against Mexico's Cruz Azul at Azteca stadium in Mexico City, Tuesday, May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Fernando Llano
Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Toronto FC coach Chris Armas returns to Red Bull Arena to face former team

Most Read