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Barometer Rising (New Canadian Library) Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1989

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Penelope Wain believes that her lover, Neil Macrae, has been killed while serving overseas under her father. That he died apparently in disgrace does not alter her love for him, even though her father is insistent on his guilt. What neither Penelope or her father knows is that Neil is not dead, but has returned to Halifax to clear his name.

Hugh MacLennan?s first novel is a compelling romance set against the horrors of wartime and the catastrophic Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917.

About the Author

A major 20th century Canadian author, Hugh MacLennan was born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, in 1907. His seven novels and many essays and travel books present a chronicle of Canada that often mediates between the old world of its European cultural heritage and the new world of American vitality and materialism. Among his many honours, he won five Governor General’s Awards. Hugh MacLennan died in Montreal in 1990. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Canadian Library (Book 8)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: New Canadian Library (November 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771099916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771099915
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,591,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on April 13, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Another entry from the Canadian New Library Series, another homerun for Canadian literature. That must necessarily be the ruling on this immensely engaging 1941 freshman effort from Hugh MacLennan, for "Barometer Rising" is a taut, intensely character driven novel from one of Canada's great essayists. MacLennan went on to write several other novels, more essays, and even some travelogues, history, and poetry. He is nothing if not versatile. If only more people knew about the wealth of literary gems from the Great White North awaiting their pleasure in the libraries and bookstores. For those interested in exploring the brilliance of Canadian literature, Hugh MacLennan is a great place to start. Hugh MacLennan died in 1990.
"Barometer Rising" takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia during 1917. The war in Europe continues to grind away, chewing up young men from around the world in its trenches and no man's lands. Nearly every passing day sees troopships exiting Halifax harbor bound for the bloodbath, and nearly every day they pass supply and munitions ships entering the port on their way to and from Europe. The city is full of foreign sailors and soldiers from every point of the compass. The war is a big deal, and since Canada serves as Britain's whipping boy, Halifax provides a safe harbor beyond the reach of German U-boats. But disaster lurks in the waters off Halifax: a munitions ship loaded with 500,000 pounds of trinitrotoluol sails into the harbor and collides with another ship. The resulting explosion is nearly nuclear in its destructiveness. Thousands die as major sections of the city explode and burn. The author shrewdly sets up his novel in countdown form, beginning on the Sunday before the explosion and ending the tale the following Monday, a few days after the disaster.
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I read this just before a long-awaited visit to Halifax (during a trip to the maritime provinces). The visit made the locations in the book come alive. This book gave me historical appreciation for what the city has gone thru.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
BAROMETER RISING is above all a novel of place and that place is Halifax, Nova Scotia in December 1917. MacLennan is very good at evoking the sights, colors, smells, and sounds of the city and its environs. If you have ever visited that small, but charming city, you would probably enjoy reading this novel just for nostalgia's sake. A competent, but not great writer, MacLennan portrays pleasingly rounded characters who are not stiff or one dimensional and weaves a plot that resolves itself in various ways on the occasion of the huge explosion that destroyed most of Halifax on Dec. 6, 1917, the biggest man-made explosion in history before the nuclear age. The story is rather too neat and a little banal in the way ends are tied up. If five stars are for the greatest novels you've ever read, and four for those that don't quite get up to that level, then three are for an average, competent job that can give you a couple nights' pleasure when the branches are scraping at the window in the winter wind. Try it, you might like it, but if disasters are not your bag, then avoid this book because the main character is an explosion.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hugh MacLennan's "Barometer Rising," written in 1941, is the symbolic purgation of the old English dominated Canada and the dawn of a "new" Canada brought about by the December 1917 Halifax Explosion. The love triangle of Penelope Wain, Neil Macrae and Angus Murray is the novel's centerpiece, but add in the chaotic intrigue of Macrae's disgrace-ridden return from the War, the manipulation and cover up by Wain's domineering plutocrat father, Geoffrey, and one easily envisions a Canadian "Downton Abbey." Structured in plot, graphic in detail, strong characters abound throughout as the story becomes an exploration of Halifax, the city, and Nova Scotia, a society. MacLennan's descriptive powers are displayed over and over as he sets the scene for the massive city leveling explosion and its aftermath. MacLennan's hurried setting and stilted dialogue in the first meeting of the love triangle is its one weakness. Otherwise, one can see why this is required reading in many Canadian high schools.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Hugh MacLenan's Barometer Rising is a very descriptive account of the explosion in Halifax harbour, which killed and injured thousands of people, during the late years of WWI. There is far more to this story than just that of an explosion. In fact the majority of the novel is spent developing characters whose stories the reader follows during the aftermath of the explosion. MacLenan makes good use of suspense and irony to keep the readers attention. The actual collision of the ships in ther harbour is particularly descriptive and suspenseful! Having been to Halifax a few times, and been to the areas described in the story I feel that MacLenan quite accurately portrayed the war stricken city of Halifax during 1917. Anyone with any interest in 20th century war or the birth of Canada as a nation, should definitely read this book!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book had an interesting story up until about two-thirds of the way through when a catastrophe occurred. The novel takes place in Halifax, and the catastrophe was a munitions ship explosion in 1917 in that city. Unfortunately, the unexpected explosion was used to resolve all of the main conflicts and was anticlimactic.
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