Ducks, Newburyport

Biblioasis. Sept. 2019. 728p. ISBN 9781771963077. pap. $19.95. F
This novel from the award-winning Ellmann (Sweet Desserts) is a long, free-association, run-on sentence coming from the overactive brain of a mother of four, happily married to an engineering professor. A former college teacher herself, now a professional baker in Newcomerstown, OH, she is also a survivor of open-heart surgery and cancer. Her many obsessions include but are hardly limited to her children, especially her hostile teenage daughter; her mother (from Newburyport), who died young; pies and cinnamon rolls; injustices large and small; old movies; Donald Trump; Marie Kondo; gun violence; industrial pollution; and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Random words such as hydrangea, Djibouti, Giant Viper’s Bugloss, and ducks pop up like tics in her stream of consciousness. The story that emerges from these riffs and ruminations is interrupted only by a tale about a mountain lion, which seems to have nothing to do with the main event until the two ingeniously merge.
VERDICT Is it worth the considerable time and effort required to get through 728 densely packed pages to journey into the mind of this funny and insanely loveable worrywart? Yes! It’s a jaw-dropping miracle.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month