“Jealousy was a form of desire”
The quote listed above is from David Bergen’s The Age of Hope and I think it might just be the perfect way to describe the the books protagonist, Hope Koop. As the title of this post indicates, The Age of Hope is currently a finalist in the upcoming CBC Canada Reads competition, running from February 11-14.
In an effort to inform readers of this blog about this “friendly” competition, let me give you a little information about the nation wide battle of the books. This year, things got a little interesting when it came to the battlefield, because CBC decided to target specific provinces, resulting in a terminology they’ve coined the “turf war.” 5 books, 5 regions and 5 celebrity panelists. As Canada Reads website indicates,
“The author must be originally from the region or have spent a substantial amount of time in that region that their novel is nominated to represent.” Source
This was the second book I read to prep for the CBC debates (the first being, Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse) and I’m once again blown away by the calibre of talent participating in the 2013 edition of Canada Reads.
We first meet Hope Plett in the year 1930, in a small town outside of Winnipeg. She’s a striking young woman that believes the world is her oyster. She’s enrolled in nursing school, all set to conquer the world, until she meets Roy Koop. A young man who’s handsome, kind, gentle and is sure to provide a happy life for Hope, so she does the inevitable and drops out of school to become his wife. I understand as you’re reading this, you might be saying to yourself, “oh that nasty Roy, how could he tear her away from her dreams, her aspirations”. But it’s important to understand that Hope enters this life on her own accord, her decisions are her own. The thing you’ll quickly learn about Hope while reading The Age of Hope, is that she sometimes regrets the decision she made to become a wife and a Mother. That doesn’t make her a bad person and David Bergen certainly doesn’t write her character in a way that you’re meant to be frustrated with her, the beauty of Hope’s uncertainty is that one always wonders about the road not traveled.
From the year 1930 to the present, we travel with Hope down the road she’s chosen. A road that involves her cherished and ever loving husband Roy (who was probably my favourite character), four children, grandchildren and best friends. It was interesting to go with Hope on this journey, not because something specific happened, but because it was travelling along with a woman through her entire existence. Have you ever seen those YouTube clips of the people that have taken pictures of themselves (or their children) every day of their life, like the one shown below?
Those videos reminded me of this book, because you watch Hope grow and you watch her family grow. I read this book is a very short span of time, because I felt like I knew the Koop family, I needed to know who Hope and Roy’s children would grow up to be, I was intrigued in reading about how the economy changed, but most importantly, it was a fascinating, birds eye view of one particular person’s world.
Ron MacLean will be the celebrity defending this book and the Prairies and North at the Canada Reads competition and I’m excited to hear his argument on why Hope Koop and her life-long journey should take the prize. It was interesting to learn the reasons on why he chose this book to defend, so be sure to check out his reasoning in a video posted on the CBC Books website.
Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter about all the Canada Reads titles by tweeting @cbcbooks or by using the hashtag #CanadaReads