Tuesday, May 20, 2014
The Plover by Brian Doyle
Declan O'Donnell has set sail for nowhere in his book, the Plover. After growing up on a landlocked farm, he has come to roam the oceans. He sets sail on the Pacific with no more plan than going west, then west some more. He is self-sufficient and needs and wants no one.
But something funny happens. Declan starts to accumulate passengers. First he happens upon his best friend, Piko and his daughter, Pipa when he puts into port on an island and before he knows it agrees to take them along. Pipa is trapped in a paralyzed body, the result of being run over by a bus four years before and Piko has devoted his life to taking care of her. Next comes Taromauri, a huge woman so big and powerful that she has been taken for a man for the last year as she worked on another ship. She decides she needs to be on the Plover and shows up. They happen upon a castaway, a former minister of affairs who has been marooned by his constituents when he dared to dream of a new nation unlike any other. Danilo is a young man who escaped a mid-eastern European country many years ago and ended up in the islands and he becomes another crew member. Finally, there is Enrique, who is a bitter, controlling man who has spent months searching for the Plover to destroy it.
Then there are the other inhabitants of the ship. Pipa cannot speak, but her inner voice projects out to the animal kingdom and the birds of the sea are her special friends. A gull rides with the ship, following it for hundreds of mile, and the terns flock anywhere Pipa is. The watery inhabitants of the ocean, the fish, the turtles, the whales and porpoises, all hear the siren call of Pipa and interact with the inhabitants of the boat. As the journey continues, it turns out the destination was a place where many disparate individuals come together to form a family, strong and able to face anything the world can throw at it.
Brian Doyle has written a beautiful, lyrical novel that sings to the soul. The imagery is magnificent and the unfolding of the family ties tug at the reader's heart. He speaks of how every denizen of the world is connected and how we can choose to surround ourselves with love and beauty. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.