Signals of Distress tells the story of an American emigration vessel grounded off the coast of England in the 1830's. While the Belle of Wilmington waits to be refloated, the isolated community of Wherrytown offers what hospitality it can to the crew, but the Americans prove to be a disturbing presence. A brilliantly imagined historical fiction about emigration, dislocation, and the price of liberty, this novel confirms Crace's reputation as a writer who is gifted almost beyond belief.
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|File size:||375 KB|
About the Author
Jim Crace is the author of seven other novels, including Being Dead, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, and, most recently, Genesis. He lives in Birmingham, England.
Jim Crace is the author of many novels, including Quarantine, which won the 1997 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction. His novels have been translated into eighteen languages. He lives with his wife and children in Birmingham, England.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Historical novels by contemporary writers are usually about famous historical figures or events. Not so Signals of distress by Jim Crace.Crace's novel uses a narrative technique often used in drama: a random group of characters is brought together by circumstance, and is forced to spend some time together, before each can go their own way. In drama this is a very forceful technique, which can bring about very interesting confrontations, while the audience is forced in a similar way to keep on listening. This same technique could work well in a novel, but in this novel it's deployment is only moderately successful.In Signals of distress a group of American sailors, carrying one African-American slave, is stranded in a small port city in Britain, awaiting the completion of repairs on their vessel which was damaged in a gale. They spend a few nights at an inn, together with a traveller, who intends to sail to the US.Unfortunately, all these characters are rather boring, and none of them are described in any amount of great detail. There is no apparent forceful dilemma, except for the difference in manners between sailors and a middle-class Englishman. The situation of the slave plays a very minor role. Without any further interesting events or developments, the novel remains a rather bland story. A bit as if the author tries his pen, but does not move beyond some simple dabbings.For its shortcomings in the plot, the novel's descriptions of the English countryside, and the historical couleur locale are impressive. The book is a pleasant read, with considerable, but moderately achieved potential.
I really, really liked The Harvest by this author so much so that I have read it twice and probably will re-read it again at some future date. That is why I bought this book. It was so bad (IMO, remember this is very subjective) I stopped reading it page for page and skipped into sections, read a bit and got the gist of it, moved on until I read the ending. I admit to a boredom I haven't had with books for a very long time.