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The Players

por Margaret Sweatman

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Two French explorers arrive in Court to charm two ships from the English King. The rest, as they say, is history...` Or perhaps not. Set in the libertine era of Restoration England, The Playersembarks on a voyage of discovery with compelling characters, a magical plot, and stunning imagery. A tale of beginnings and of invention, this remarkable novel takes on the 17th century with a contemporary sensibility. Here, the ability to perform -- in Court, on stage, in private quarters, and in the brutal cold of James Bay -- might save your life... and Lilly Cole must play along with the best of them. Sly, provocative, and ingeniously funny, Sweatman's prose explores the deep well of human motivation, how instinct trumps reason when survival is in question.… (mais)
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At its base, The Players is about a woman making her way through a universe ruled by men, doing whatever it takes to survive, which makes Lilly as much an explorer/adventurer as Des Groseilliers and Radisson. Lilly is the main 'player' in The Players, but in a way, all the characters are only acting their parts to achieve their true desires. The novel is also about the death of entire worlds, whole societies, replacing them with a new one, that of 'civilization.' As the explorers rue, "Civilization will seep into everything, it will mimic, steal, atom by atom, yes, like that, so that nothing evermore will be free of falsity." In The Players, the entire world is being slowly transformed, becoming an actor as well, disguising its feral nature underneath the trappings of enlightenment.

Read the rest of the review here. ( )
  ShelfMonkey | Mar 1, 2010 |
Sweatman's writing flows as smoothly as a muscular northern river, with a stunning control of voice. She keeps the reader engaged every moment, introducing us to a company of intriguing characters, and makes good use of fastidious detail, as in this list of provisions for the ship: “Eighteen barrels of shot, five thousand needles, twenty blunderbusses, thirty muskets, and so on. Raisins, beer, prunes, peas, oatmeal, beef, etcetera. Pork. Thirty-seven pounds of tobacco …”

The novel is also bursting with good humour and refreshing in its willful ignorance of political correctness. The Englishmen can never quite get Des Groseilliers's name correct, calling him every variation of “Gooseberries” possible. And when Lilly meets an Indian chief, these two skilled mimics go to town: “Lilly wiped her nose with the back of her hand and curtsied. The chief mimicked her, wiping his nose and making a most astonishing curtsy. She brightened. She curtsied with greater flourish. The savage copied her with perfectly gauged exaggeration.”

Altogether, this frothy, tangy novel is tart as a green apple, far grittier and more realistic than costume dramas of the period available on TV and film. Ultimately, Sweatman creates a memorable female character making her way in a world of men: Lilly Cole, player, survivor, early Canadian.
adicionada por ShelfMonkey | editarThe Globe and Mail, Mark Frutkin (Sep 18, 2009)
 
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This was the beginning of Lilly's real life, the one she would invent out of thin air.
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Two French explorers arrive in Court to charm two ships from the English King. The rest, as they say, is history...` Or perhaps not. Set in the libertine era of Restoration England, The Playersembarks on a voyage of discovery with compelling characters, a magical plot, and stunning imagery. A tale of beginnings and of invention, this remarkable novel takes on the 17th century with a contemporary sensibility. Here, the ability to perform -- in Court, on stage, in private quarters, and in the brutal cold of James Bay -- might save your life... and Lilly Cole must play along with the best of them. Sly, provocative, and ingeniously funny, Sweatman's prose explores the deep well of human motivation, how instinct trumps reason when survival is in question.

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