Doig's portrait of his mother, Berneta, who died on his sixth birthday in 1945, is drawn from Berneta's cryptic letters to her brother Wally, aboard a warship in the Pacific. Filling in missing bits from memory, he depicts what he recalls of his parents' marriage, and of the struggle and truce for his sake between his grandmother and father.
This book is the prequel to Doig’s memoir, House of Sky. It tells the story of Doig’s mother, Berneta Ringer Doig, in the year immediately prior to her death when Ivan was five years old.
It is based on letters written by Berneta to her brother who was serving in WWll aboard the USS Ault. Many years after her death and after the publication of This House of Sky, Doig’s uncle gave these previously unknown letters to Doig. So we see the events described in this book both through the memories of a small sensitive boy whose only companions were grownups and the boy’s mother.
Berneta battled both asthma and the hardships of a remote, hardscrabble sheep ranch; her love of words shine through the letters she wrote sixty years earlier and through her son’s memories.
Doig marvels that although he lost his mother at such a young age, he finds such pieces of his mother’s soul in his own.
This book is a wonderful portrait of a family enduring hard times and is well worth the read.
This is a short book and a fairly quick read. I really liked this a lot. It stirs one's soul a bit. The language in here is kind of fun to chew on. I haven't read one of Doig's novels in a long time. I need to work on that.