February is a novel set after the oil rig Ocean Ranger sank in a violent storm 300 km off the coast of Newfoundland on February 15th, 1982.
Cal O’Mara is a fictional victim of the rig sinking. February follows his widow Helen as she raises their four children and as the shape of her grief evolves from the sharp, stabbing pain and shock of sudden loss into the ache of long-term absence over the ensuing 25 years.
Moore’s is a distinct voice. Devoid of dialogue, she uses ordinary yet evocative language that’s spare, yet rich in description. I read Caught last fall, and fell immediately into Moore’s cadence, reminiscent of the gentle lilt of of a Newfoundland accent.
This book does an amazing job of exploring grief through Helen’s eyes without ever devolving into the maudlin. Cal appears in the book only through Helen’s memories of their wedding night and their first ten years of marriage, so many of which are the ordinary stuff of a simple, loving, domestic existence — the struggles to raise three children born in quick succession, pleasures like found kites and paperback books read in companionable silence.
Even though you never meet him first-hand, Moore’s brilliance is that Cal isn’t a tragic figure — he’s fully formed and as a reader you can’t help but empathize with the magnitude of Helen’s loss.
Highly recommended and worth your time.