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Her storytelling is influenced her interest in bygone days. January 3, at pm. You are commenting using your WordPress.

Ask Molly Ringwald: my son's dating the wrong woman | Life and style | The Guardian

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A WordPress. Search for:. Gwen Tuinman Novelist. Like this: Like Loading Gwen Tuinman Gwen Tuinman is a novelist, born and raised in rural southern Ontario. Author archive Author website. Gwen Tuinman January 3, at pm Reply. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Opposites may well attract but I'm not so sure they're the basis for many long-term relationships, and those we choose in adolescence are rarely those we'd choose in our 40s.

Is it believable that a woman like Penelope would react to being forced to conform by flouting society's conventions even more, in private? Like the Quill and Quire reviewer, there were portions of this novel I found tedious, and I struggled to finish it. View all 3 comments. Jul 09, Esil rated it really liked it Shelves: first-reads. I was very excited to win this book from Goodreads. I loved The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, which is the only other book by Johnston I have read, and was really looking forward to getting immersed in this book. In that sense, it is well done. It also does a good job of creating a set of unusual characters, trying to survive in what on the surface only is meant I was very excited to win this book from Goodreads.

It also does a good job of creating a set of unusual characters, trying to survive in what on the surface only is meant to be a conventional world. Jan 31, Paula rated it it was ok.


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This book was my first exposure to Johnston's body of work. The setting is 's St. John's Newfoundland in a catholic neighbourhood. Pretty much everything in the storyline is in direct conflict with the catholic churches' teaching. I found the story witty and irreverent at first but as I got closer and closer to the end I found myself feeling more and more uncomfortable with where the story was going.

I am not a prude but I thought the sexual content went too far - I don't think it was necessa This book was my first exposure to Johnston's body of work. I am not a prude but I thought the sexual content went too far - I don't think it was necessary to make the author's point. Jan 05, Barbara Sibbald rated it it was ok. Percy Joyce. What a lad! Smart, disfigured and precocious - especially sexually.

Okay, I get it, he lusts after his mother, the luscious Penelope, do you have to give me the blow-by-blow, hard-on by hard-on? Frankly, the repetition was dull. This book would have been a lot more poignant with about a hundred fewer pages. It's told from Percy's point of view and oft-times the observations were too astute for the age -- even for someone who is bright. Despite this, there are some moments of genuine Percy Joyce.

Despite this, there are some moments of genuine hilarity in this book. Particularly the grand finale! And I certainly can't object to the broad swipe at Catholicism for all its foibles. View all 5 comments.

Apr 01, David added it. I tried this second reading to see if I was mistaken about the first. No, this is not Ulysses, nor was meant to be.

Both Percy Janes and James Joyce should feel more than a little insulted. Johnston is recycling. He covers no ground here that he did not do better, and with less vulgarity, than he did in The Divine Ryans. Penelope Joyce is far beneath Linda Ryan Delaney in foundational dignity. Aunt Medina, though pleasant, is no substitute for Uncle Reg Ryan.

I read this book when it was first published in , wrote a review and posted it. Just learned the book is somehow missing from my shelves. Wayne Johnston is a highly admired Newfoundland writer of literary historic novels. This one was different, and the sexual and religious subject matter made me uncomfortable.

The Son of a Certain Woman

I remember in my original review I stated that I thought I had just read a bad, crude Newfoundland joke. Jan 15, Candice Walsh rated it really liked it. I actually enjoyed this book and I'm surprised by all its negative reviews. It's certainly not my favourite Johnston book I'm a fan girl , but it kept me interested throughout.

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Minus all the religious bits. I have a weird love for coming of age stories, though. And that ending? Oct 19, Lauren Hopkins rated it did not like it. A woman's life is ruined by every man she ever meets and it's made out to be her fault somehow.


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Aug 28, Elen Ghulam rated it liked it. The novel is repetitive and belabored. Could have easily been pages shorter and achieved the same effect. Nov 03, Krista rated it liked it Shelves: can-con , atlantic-can , Most of the people who knew my mother either slept with her or wished they had, including me, my aunt Medina and a man who boarded with us…As for me wanting to sleep with my mother, if you disapprove, try spending your childhood with a face that looks long past its prime, with hands and feet like the paws of some prehuman that foraged on all fours -- and then get back to me.


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Or better yet, read on. This opening salvo appropriately prepares the reader for what is to come: Anyone who might be off Most of the people who knew my mother either slept with her or wished they had, including me, my aunt Medina and a man who boarded with us…As for me wanting to sleep with my mother, if you disapprove, try spending your childhood with a face that looks long past its prime, with hands and feet like the paws of some prehuman that foraged on all fours -- and then get back to me.

This opening salvo appropriately prepares the reader for what is to come: Anyone who might be offended by incest or lesbians or rationalised prostitution should close the covers and back away. As someone who is not offended by a literary treatment of incest and not in the least offended by lesbians and prostitutes , I was prepared to accept whatever came along after such an intriguing start -- and I was left rather disappointed. Percy Joyce, eponymously The Son of a Certain Woman , was born with a benign form of a congenital defect playfully referred to throughout the book as False Someone Syndrome, or FSS that left him with a port-stained face, large and drooping lower lip, and oversized hands and feet; making him the subject of ridicule and cruelty from everyone outside his family; a situation that intensifies when he starts school.

His only advantage beyond the unfailing love of his mother and aunt is the attention of the Archbishop of Newfoundland who, because he believes it auspicious that Percy was born on the Feast Day of John the Baptist -- Patron Saint of St. John's -- delivers a sermon that warns the boy is under his personal protection; sparing Percy not only the physical bullying of his peers but also the corporal punishment of his school teachers making him the only child in all of Newfoundland not beat to shreds by the sadistic nuns and Christian Brothers charged with their education.

Nothing, however, can prevent the other children from shunning Percy, or testing the limits of the Archbishop's protection with name-calling and vulgar taunts, and the loneliness that the boy feels was the most honest part of this book for me.

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Apparently, Wayne Johnston's goal was to do for St. But hey, nudge, nudge, the abandoned Mom is named Penelope and the missing Dad is Jim Joyce -- get it? Johnston captures a time and place, and especially the stranglehold that the Catholic Church had over that time and place, but he only shows us one small street and only the part of that small street that leads from Percy's home to his school -- hardly an odyssey of epic proportions.

And while this book is considered humorous, it's more farce than anything else, and I don't know that James Joyce by way of John Irving was what I was expecting. As the book drew to a close and the machinations of the Archbishop were finally revealed, I had hopes that the payoff would be worth the journey, but the ending scene undermined whatever claim to seriousness that The Son of a Certain Woman may have been preparing. I was left cold. What I did like was the portrayal of the Catholic Church's absolute power over its adherents at the time even if it may have gone over the top with the sadism of the teachers -- but who knows, maybe that was Johnston's experience -- my mother doesn't have a lot of nice things to say about the nuns who taught her.

And I felt compassion for Penny and Medina -- I can't imagine a time when two consenting adults lived in fear of being "hauled off to the Mental" for acting on the love that dare not speak its name. By now I know that Johnston didn't win the Giller Prize for this novel, and based on the few books on the shortlist that I have read, that seems appropriate. View 2 comments. Oct 01, David rated it liked it Shelves: canadian. This was the second of Wayne Johnston's novels I've read - the first some years ago was 'The Navigator of New York' which I remember plodding through and finding rather dull, so it often surprises me when I read that Johnston is known for his humour and satire.

But its central concept of the disfigured This was the second of Wayne Johnston's novels I've read - the first some years ago was 'The Navigator of New York' which I remember plodding through and finding rather dull, so it often surprises me when I read that Johnston is known for his humour and satire. Preposterous, and if it had occurred earlier in the book I may have abandoned it. No matter how disfigured Percy is or how beautiful Penny, I cannot imagine a son ever asking his mother for the things Percy asks for, at least not without some kind of psychiatric treatment being the outcome.