Good to a Fault
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Marina Endicott's critically and commercially beloved novel, published for the first time by Anchor Canada.
In a moment of self-absorption, Clara Purdy's life takes a sharp left turn when she crashes into a beat-up car carrying an itinerant family of six. The Gage family had been travelling to a new life in Fort McMurray, but bruises on the mother, Lorraine, prove to be late-stage cancer rather than remnants of the accident. Recognizing their need as her responsibility, Clara tries to do the right thing and moves the children, husband, and horrible grandmother into her own house--then has to cope with the consequences of practical goodness.
What, exactly, does it mean to be good? When is sacrifice merely selfishness? What do we owe in this life and what do we deserve? Marina Endicott looks at life and death through the compassionate lens of a born novelist: being good, being at fault, and finding some balance on the precipice.
pride. Thinking of burdens, she put a For Sale sign in the window of her mother’s car, with her phone number and the price. An hour later Mrs. Bunt knocked on the door and offered to buy it for cash. Nice for her to have some independence from Mr. Bunt, Clary thought, and gave her the key. Mrs. Bunt started the car and drove it forward twenty feet. It looked right at home. Once everything breakable was packed, and the place ready, she washed her hair and dressed in jeans and drove over to
the Wylie Agency; and to Jennifer Barth. I thank Doctors Thyra Endicott, Nora Ku, and Jill Nation for help with cancer, and Azana Endicott, too late. I continue to rely on Sara O’Leary, Jeanne Harvie, Steve Gobby, and Glenda MacFarlane, who also knew Binnie. Thanks to Rachel and Will Ormshaw, research and development. Thoughtful advice: Timothy Endicott, Jonathan Chute. Time alone: Sarah and Mark Wellings. Early training: my dear father, Orville Endicott. The parish described here bears no
that for a moment she could not move, even to lean back. She was wracked with sharp pain in her abdomen and knew that it was for her mother’s dreadful, clawing death, not very long before, at this same hospital. In the same yellow sheets, and as close as Lorraine was now. As far away. Mrs. Zenko’s empty house was not perfectly quiet. The fridge was making a whirring noise, and there was a radio on somewhere, playing swingy music. Dolly stood on the back step, waiting to hear if Mrs. Zenko was
to remember where she had parked this time. Clary walked in the front door and almost fell over a pile of metal struts. A man she’d never seen before was crouched down gathering the struts together, and he scrambled up to catch her; she caught herself, instead. “Hello?” she said. Darwin came running up from the basement. “Hey, Clary! Good!” He edged past the large man and helped him manoeuvre his load past the woodwork. She could see no place to put her grocery bags that wasn’t covered with
him, because his mother was sick. He decided he would kill Jesus, and be the new Jesus, and then he could get her better. Who cares that he would be the devil then. Dolly prayed at first—since she had to be there—a short ferocious prayer that was no question but an order: Get her well. Her forehead pressing on the pew, staring into her clenched fists. When she stopped, exhausted, she watched Pearce’s foot dangling beside her. His foot trembled like a bird’s as he reached up to touch Clary, to be