Volume 92, Issue 79

Wednesday, February 17, 1998


Costner should put a cork in the Bottle

The best of Orb makes Eno bubbly

Complex novel probes virginity

Complex novel probes virginity

Don Hannah
Vintage Canada
$17.95/426 pgs.

Acclaimed and award winning playwright Don Hannah moves into a new literary form with his first novel, The Wise and Foolish Virgins. Religion, as depicted by the Virgin Mary night-light on the book's cover, plays a large role in the characters' lives as they grapple with issues of faith.

Set in a small New Brunswick town, the novel describes the stories of several families in the community of Membartouche. Though they represent a spectrum of ages, classes and personalities, their connections to each other are gradually exposed through numerous bizarre coincidences and shared experiences in both the present and the past.

Citizens of the town include Sandy, an elderly bachelor and last remaining member of the town's most prominent family. Gloria is his cleaning lady who is trying to stage a reunion and reconciliation for her family. On the youthful scale, high school students Annette and Chaleur have a plethora of issues concerning school, family and relationships.

Through it all, the characters' relationships with the various religious denominations in the town are described and as often happens in small towns, they serve as a source of gossip.

All the characters exude complexity. The plot begins by describing the characters as individuals with separate stories. Gradually, the author reveals details of the characters' experiences, thereby weaving their lives together forming one plot by the conclusion of the novel and creating some realistic personalities.

The characters often reminisce about the way things were, while speculating as to what might have been. Faith, family relationships and missed opportunities are themes found throughout the novel, prompting the reader to consider similar questions and issues in their own lives.

Hannah deals with some serious issues, but injections of humour keep the plot from monotony. Although a rather lengthy book, the realistic characters and constant plot twists keep the reader desiring more. However, at times it seems there are too many strange events occurring for one little town.

With The Wise and Foolish Virgins, Don Hannah successfully makes the transition from writing plays to writing novels. Future works by this Canadian author are anticipated, with hopes of creating additional realistic characters and communities full of issues and situations to both entertain the reader and encourage thought and reflection.


To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999