The early descriptions of Quoyle make him out to be a lumbering clod, barely capable of speech, unattractive in every way, making the reader feel the self-loathing of a young man lost in a highly critical world. As he begins to let his voice be heard, more of his own character comes out, slowly and painfully, and the story moves forward as we get to know him and he gets to know himself. While the beginning of the book is one calamity after another, Quoyle sticks with it and keeps plodding along, going where the winds take him until his fortunes right themselves.
Once I was inside this world, I stopped wanting to leave. One of my favourite quirks in the book is Quoyle's habit of creating impromptu newspaper headlines about the world around him ("Man with Hangover Listens to Boat Builder Project Variables"). There was also the warmth of the closeknit community in the Northern reaches, the intriguing history and mystery of each character and the town, even an abandoned village on a desolate island. I made a point of never checking the publication date on Shipping News, because it sits fairly happily in the near-present, comfortably familiar and nonspeciﬁc. Come to think of it, this was probably my favourite book of the week.
"There are four women in every man's heart. The Maid in the Meadow, the Demon Lover, the Stouthearted Woman, the Tall and Quiet Woman."