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On the bookshelf: RedJack

RedJack, a novel by Gary Collins, is published by Flanker Press and available locally at the Butterfly Book Boutique in Port aux Basques.

by Gerald J. Roy

Book Columnist

This novel is both a wonderful read and a disappointment. For a start, I believe the title is a misnomer. The RedJack story barely lasts the first third of the book. Then the major portion of the novel starts to deal with his son Jake and his family.

I would have loved to follow Redjack’s adventures on his beach as a hermit, how he managed to survive, build a shelter, heal his wounds, and how he made use of his scant resources. But the jump back and forth, decades at a times, took that interest away. It is still a wonderful story to read, but more as a study in anger and actual hatred inside one’s own family. It also devolves in irrational prejudice for little or no discernible reason.

As a “fish sculler” RedJack was hated and that feeling extended to his son because of the vicious rape of a young girl. The story of Jake and his wife, Eliza, as well as their son, Templar, all of them redheads as the title character was, is in itself a wonder a great novel of acceptance, of devotion to the community, and often at personal cost.

We learn of Jake’s eventual begrudging forgiveness of his father. More importantly, we follow Eliza’s path to becoming the defacto nurse or healer of their community. Again, the time jumps took away from the enjoyment of this read.

How, where and when did RedJack die the reader can only guess. We have to assume the bones recovered on his beach were his as the skeleton had red hair.

Eventually Templar, now a grown man, and the family return to Hermitage beach, and following instructions given to Jake at the time of reconciliation, recovered RedJack’s horde of gold totaling some $300, a veritable fortune since the great crash was in full swing at that time.

Because I found the time shifts annoying and disruptive to the overall narrative, I could not bring myself to give the novel a higher rating, even though I did enjoy reading it.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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