David C.C. Bourgeois’s stunning debut novel Full Fadom Five is a seamless blend of multiple genres, a daring feat—not to mention a challenging feat to master—in today’s pool of literary fiction. The story borrows from Elizabethan England and mirrors the themes of loss, forgiveness, and redemption that one finds in most Shakespearean works, particularly one of the last plays written by the bard. The author opens with this quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
“Full fadom five, thy father lies…
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But that doth suffer a Sea-change
Into something rich, and strange:”
In doing so, the author sets the stage for the entire arc of the novel, giving us an immediate glimpse into the sea of torment that has followed Noah Lamarck his entire life. Against the backdrop of the Cape Breton landscape, the story begins with Noah running along its rocky shores, trying desperately to escape his growing personal and financial constraints, common threads woven throughout the novel. Despite being laid off, Noah attempts to help his ailing grandparents, both of whom are on the cusp of financial ruin themselves as they try to deal with the grandfather’s dementia. Just when all seems lost, Noah and a colleague, Cecelia, get an unexpected once-in-a-lifetime employment opportunity to examine newly found documents that may fill in some of the missing pieces of Shakespeare’s life. With a hefty financial incentive, Noah can hardly say no despite his initial misgivings about his new employer. This brilliant device is a direct parallel to Noah’s own voyage through family history and self-discovery.
What follows is a deeply personal story of loss and forgiveness along parallel timelines, something the author navigates the reader through effortlessly. Again, it is a difficult task, this back and forth of time. At first blush, this constant transitioning seems to make little sense, but it is a stroke of genius as it comes together in the end, to bring the narrative into sharp focus.
The novel reads in part like the Bible, and Bourgeois clearly uses his metaphors well. The imagery of the sea not only serves as the novel’s backdrop, but also stands as a religious allegory, this washing away of sins. It also serves to foreshadow the truth relating to Noah’s parents, something that has been hidden from his since boyhood.
In the end, Bourgeois’s evocative prose punches us in the gut, knocking the wind out of our sails as we sympathize with Noah as he finally learns what happened to his parents, and in particular his father. The author helps the reader balance the heartbreak of wanting to know the truth against the burden of truth itself. That even in the knowing, the emotional wounds left behind never truly heal. The novel forces us to accept the inevitable continuity of life. Our stories linger long after, and life does indeed go on.
About the Author
David C.C. Bourgeois was born in Kitchener-Waterloo and grew up in Port Perry, Ontario. He holds degrees from the University of Toronto and McGill University, and his work has been published or shortlisted for awards in several Canadian literary magazines. He now lives in Montreal, where he writes fiction and drama and teaches English Literature at John Abbott College. Full Fadom Five is his first novel.
- Publisher : Baraka Books (April 1 2023)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771863129
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771863124
Lori Green is a Canadian writer who has been writing poetry, horror, and dark fiction since she first picked up a pen. Her work has been accepted in various publications including Blank Spaces Magazine, Ghost Orchid Press, Dark Rose Press, Black Hare Press, and more. She studied English Literature at the University of Western Ontario and now lives along the shores of Lake Huron. She is currently working on several short stories and writing her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter @LoriG1408.