If you enjoy witticisms and bon mots, this is a book for you. As one reviewer wrote, Johnston used “anagrams, portmanteaus, puns, malapropos and neologisms as keys to unlock secret lives, longings, betrayals and revenges.” Landish Druken and Padgett (Van) Vanderluyden were best friends. Both came from successful but troubled homes. Landish had rejected his inheritance because he refused to become a sealer like his father. Van was the runt of the litter of an extremely wealthy family. Not respected by neither his father nor his older brothers. Lacking self confidence Landish would feed Van his wittiest comments for conversation at college. Having been stabbed in the back by his friend, Landish was expelled from his college prior to graduation for disreputable conduct.

Back in St John, Newfoundland, Landish lives in an attic where he can only stand up straight when he walks down the middle of the room. He adopts a small boy at the request of his mother who he names Deacon. They survive on odd job that Landish finds like shovelling snow and on food vouchers. When circumstances have grown so dire that Deacon is about to be turned out by the authorities, Landish turns to Van for help and they’re invited to live at Vanderland in North Carolina. Landish will work as a tutor of  Van’s only child, Goddie, and Deacon will be her classmate and occasional friend.

In the reunion of the two friends we see their relationship was based on lies and deceits and power and control.

An excellent read.


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