Friday, August 29, 2008

Quintet by Douglas Arthur Brown - Review

Quintet by Douglas Arthur Brown

Fiction, paperback 303 pgs.

Key Porter Press (2008)

Three brothers, identical triplets, have come home to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, to bury their parents who've been killed in an accident. They haven't been together in all the years since they left home as young men. They're on the cusp of forty now. They've reunited from Toronto, Halifax, and Copehagen. A carpenter who sings beautifully in church choirs but has no interest in religion, Cameron has a blind daughter and a wife now living separately. He has a great deal of guilt about his daughter, Mary Anne, wondering if drugs he took when he was young might be responsible for her blindness. Rory is an artist who exhibits his paintings in art galleries in Toronto. He experiences synesthesia, he hears colours, and his work is dominated by red. He's married to a doctor fifteen years his senior whom he adores. Adrian runs a haute cuisine restaurant in Copenhagen with his male partner who is seriously ill. Each of the three brothers has no idea what's going on in the others lives, they haven't kept in touch. They miss each other but are harbouring negative feelings toward each other and their parents, as most siblings do. But they all agree in their resentment of their older brother, "the Big B", who has stayed near his parents and has secrets of his own.

The story of their lives for the past twenty years is told in the form of a journal that each triplet keeps for four months then mails to one of the others. This form works very well, no sudden time shifts or confusion about which of them is telling their story in each chapter. Written in simple, not flowery language, as one brother opens up a little so do the others in what they tell about their loves, losses and triumphs. Their individual expression of themselves nicely dispels the myth of identical character so often presumed about multiple birth children too. Over time, they become more reflective and honest about their lives as children and the feelings that led to their ending up so far apart, at least in distance. They are clearly still deeply attached emotionally. Strong feelings emerge, a few raw emotions are revealed, but there is humour too. It's set in Canada and we get to travel through their eyes in Canada and Europe. And we are privileged to watch them come together in their journal accounts and rebuild a brotherhood of trust and love. I enjoyed their story. Four stars out of five.

This is Douglas Arthur Brown's second novel. His first was A Deadly Harvest.
He has also published a collection of short fiction, The Kimodo Dragon and Other Stories.

Douglas Arthur Brown's homepage

Key Porter Press

Thank you to Mini Book Expo and Key Porter Books for providing me with a review copy.


I'm giving away my gently read paperback copy of Quintet by Douglas Arthur Brown. This is not an Advance Reading Copy, but a true copy.
Entry is open worldwide until midnight Wednesday,September 10.

Tell me you want Quintet and

1) Comment on any other book mentioned on my blog that you think you might enjoy reading and tell me why for one entry. This includes those in my personal library (shown by LibraryThing).
2) If you blog about this contest and put a link back to it I'll give you two entries.
3) Do both and you'll have three chances to win.

Winner will be announced on Thursday, September 11

Next review: Months and Seasons by Christopher Meeks

Previous review: Schooled by Alisha Lakhani


  1. I want to win Quintet! You had me at Nova Scotia ;-)
    Now, as to what other book on your site or in your library I would like to read, well I must say one that you review on LT, 'Death of a Murderer' by Rupert Thomson sounds very interesting. Any book described as creepy must be grand!

  2. I would love to be entered into your giveaway. Your review of Quintet was fantastic.
    A book that I really would like to read is one that you highly recommend, Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian. I loved his books Midwives and The Double Bind so I am looking forward to reading this new book as well as reading some of his older books.
    I posted about your contest on my blog. The link to it is here.


  3. I would love to read Quintet! I can't believe that I have not heard of Coventry but it's going on my wish list after reading your review. I love historical fiction, especially set in England, and Coventry looks great.

  4. I've currently got several of your 'recommended' books on my TBR list - The Book Thief, Kite Runner, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The Potato Peel Pie book is at the top of the list, but it's also the one I don't yet own.

    I'd love to read Quintet - great review!


  5. I've heard so many good things about The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and I would love to read that!

  6. I would love to win this book!
    Another book that I've seen on your site that I want to read is "Schooled". I've been hearing good things about it.(comment from original blog site)

  7. I'd love to win Quintet. My mother- in-law grew up in Cape Breton and I have always wanted to go there but financially it is out of the question. Reading about it will be the next best thing. "Death in Venice" sounds fab also.

  8. I have been wanting to read "Run before the Wind" for a while, and "Quintet" Sounds intriguing.

  9. Quintet sounds good but it's not available at my library. :(



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