I am so grateful for the support I’ve received for my new novel, Our Daily Bread. Thomas E. Kennedy, author of The Copenhagen Quartet, Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool, The Book of Maime and The Holy Book of the Beard (among others), and Dexter Palmer, author of The Dream of Perpetual Motion, have all donated blurbs, as has the wonderful Canadian author, Jane Urquhart. Jane says,
“Our Daily Bread is a compelling narrative set in a closely observed, sometimes dark, but ultimately life-enhancing landscape. Lauren B. Davis’ vivid prose and empathetically developed characters will remain in the reader’s mind long after the final chapter has been read. “
—Jane Urquhart, prize winning author of Away and The Stone Carvers
Writers work in isolation much of the time, and are subject to rejection (often heartless) and criticism (often thoughtless). We don’t get paid much (if anything) and I for one suffer terrible pangs of self-doubt. Without a community of emotional support, frankly, I’m not sure I’d be able to continue writing. So I want to give a shout out to these wonderful people.
This novel was not immediately embraced by the publishing community (understatement). But my agent, publisher and the people mentioned were constant in their support and belief in me, as were a number of friends, and, as ever, My Best Beloved. So, it is with great please that I post here the “starred” review Our Daily Bread has earned in Canada’s industry publication, The Quill & Quire. And may I just say they don’t give out many “starred” reviews (although I did earn another for The Radiant City). I should also say I don’t know the reviewer, have never met him, and I didn’t bribe him. Here it is:
BOOK REVIEWS – Quill & Quire, September 2011 issue
*Starred* OUR DAILY BREAD
Lauren B. Davis; paper 978- 877655722
258 pp., 6 x 9, Wordcraft of Oregon
Oct. Reviewed from advance reading copy
With her new novel, Montreal-born writer Lauren B. Davis, who currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey, has created a powerful, harrowing and deeply unsettling work. It’s the sort of novel that keeps you reading even as your skin crawls and your blood pressure mounts.
The story centers on the town of Gideon, a pious, God-fearing community seething with the dark underbelly common to all such towns. The neighbouring mountain is home to the Erskine clan, a family with a long history of child abuse, neglect, violence, and drug-dealing. The Erskines’ sins are known among the residents of Gideon, but the family is mostly left alone, ostracized and distanced. Twenty-one-year-old Albert Erskine befriends 15-year-old Bobby Evans, the eldest child of Tom and Patty, whose marriage is crumbling. Bobby’s younger sister, Ivy, persecuted and bullied at school, takes refuge with Dorothy Carlisle, who runs an antique store. It is the nature of small communities (and novels) that the characters’ lives and stories overlap and intersect, shaping and being shaped by one another.
From its brutal opening—describing a humiliation Albert endures when he is thought to be snooping on some older family members who are getting into the meth business—Our Daily Bread proceeds like a noose gradually tightening: something terrible is going to happen, and the reader is kept rapt, wondering what the precipitating incident will be.
Davis drew inspiration for Our Daily Bread from the story of Nova Scotia’s Goler clan—she acknowledges David Cruise and Alison Griffiths’ On South Mountain, which documents the case and the community, as source material—and she uses this background to create a stark, beautiful, sad, and frankly terrifying novel.
Our Daily Bread is finely crafted, with careful attention to characterization, style, and pacing. It succeeds on every level, and will leave readers, much like the book’s characters, devastated and clawing toward the light.
– Robert J. Wiersema, author of the forthcoming memoir Walk Like a Man (Greystone Books).
Who knows what the next reviews will bring, or even if there will be one? But I do hope the people who supported me and believed in me are smiling. I know I am.