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Our Daily Bread Paperback – October 1, 2011

4.9 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

" Powerful, harrowing, and deeply unsettling.  It keeps you reading as your blood pressure mounts...proceeds like a noose gradually tightening...stark, beautiful, sad and frankly terrifying...finely crafted, with careful attention to characterization, style, and pacing.  It succeeds on every level."
--(Starred Review) The Quill & Quire

"Absorbing, strikingly-written, and subtly-honed . . . a page-turner!" --  Gordon Hauptfleisch, blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-our-daily-bread-a/

"full of remarkable moments. . . a level of detail that puts us in the beating hearts of imperiled souls. . . . simple, brave, powerful scenes, skillfully written with an anger no less effective for being tempered - scenes that sit with the soul long after the book is closed." -  Alan Cuymn, THE GLOBE & MAIL

Longlisted for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Named as one of the "Very Best Books of 2011" by THE GLOBE & MAIL and the BOSTON GLOBE.

"Thrilling . . unflinching . . unforgettable. Davis makes us care about her characters . . imaginatively transformed by exquisite prose.  Her moral fiction calls us to empathize, read, imagine and hear. This is a story of getting lost in the woods, of meeting the monster and getting out alive." Jean Randich, Truthdig.com

From the Author

One of the things I've been troubled by in the past few years is the increasing polarization I see around me.  It pops up in any number of places - religion, politics both local and international, public rhetoric, the media, etc.  We don't have to look far for examples - perhaps no farther than our prisons, or the town next door, or even in our own families.
I write to figure out what I think about things and to attempt to find meaning.  I try to find metaphors in which to explore my feelings and thoughts on what obsesses me.

As I pondered my concerns about the ever-widening gaps I noticed around me, a story from my past kept rising to the surface.  I lived in Nova Scotia for a brief time in 1972-1973.  While there, I heard stories about a community up on a nearby mountain.  They were terrible stories, involving incest, aborted and deformed babies, prostitution, bootlegging and so forth.  I told myself these dreadful tales couldn't be true. I believed, naively, that if they were true, surely someone would have done something about it. Then, in the early 1980s one of the children of the Goler clan told her story of generational abuse to a teacher.  This teacher came from another province and hadn't been in Nova Scotia very long.  She in turn called an RCMP officer, who also hadn't been in the community for very long. They insisted an investigation begin and eventually many of the clan adults were in jail and the children in foster care.


I was horrified, but also mystified.  If all those rumors were true, why had it taken so long for someone to intervene? Well, the answer seemed to be that the people who lived on the mountain had, for generations, been considered "Those People" as in "What do you expect from those people?"  The people who lived in the prosperous Annapolis Valley nearby, in communities founded hundreds of years earlier on Puritanical religious principles, believed their neighbors were so "Other" as to be beyond the pale.


The extreme marginalization of the community and the terrible repercussions of ostracism haunted me and it seemed the perfect framework to explore how such ordinary people could do such dreadful things, or permit such dreadful things to continue.


I have had several instances in my own life of feeling like the "Other."  Although I explore the theme more personally in my previous novel, THE STUBBORN SEASON, in which a young girl battles the tyranny of living with a mentally ill mother during the Great Depression, in OUR DAILY BREAD the character of Ivy Evans is based on some of my own experiences with marginalization.  My family, afflicted by mental illness and alcoholism, was going through a rough time the summer I was nine.  I was an only child, and adopted, and rather bookish and prone to making up stories, all of which helped to make me 'Other' in the eyes of some of the children in the neighborhood.  That summer, a lady who owned a little antique shop near my house let me hang around the store.  I'm sure she never knew just how much that meant to me, but it was a refuge from loneliness and bullying and I've never forgotten it.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Wordcraft of Oregon, LLC (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1877655724
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877655722
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #522,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephanie Cowell VINE VOICE on August 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was up very late for two nights unable to put this book down. Set between the rather decent people of a small and ordinary town and the terrifying, child-abusing clan in the mountains above, Our Daily Bread has a compelling, almost scriptural pull between good and evil, those from the town who judge in a stupid but well-meaning way, those who try to help the children, those who are too afraid to do anything. The characters are compelling: principally Tom, a beautifully portrayed father and husband who wants only to live an ordinary good life and Albert, a young man who had grown up in the clan, was bitterly abused, and who can neither stay with them or move away. He is complex, a very old soul in a young man, a young man who never been young. His final realization of what he must do to save the children - and in a way, to save his own soul - is truly terrifying. Lauren B. Davis is not afraid to ask hard questions about decency and loyalty and she does not give us easy answers. The character of Tom's daughter Ivy who must take responsibility far beyond her ten years and the decent proprietor of a small antiques store walk off the page and into your mind. The novel evoked many questions for me about goodness and evil and responsibility. Original and utterly memorable.
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At a time in our political history when many Americans have no interest in--or, it appears, no compassion for--people with different views, backgrounds, and circumstances, this book vividly displays the dire consequences of Us and Them divisions. In this book, the divisions are between the impoverished and lawless Erskine clan and Everyone Else in the small town of Gideon in far eastern Canada. The engaging characters include a frustrated father, whose family is slipping out of his grasp; a daughter who seeks direction from a nannyish older woman (something of a busybody, and thank goodness for that); a son who finds friendship and a lot more reality than he wants or knows possible by crossing that divide; and his new friend, a son of the heavy drinking, drug-taking, child-abusing extended Erskine clan,who sees their world most clearly by trying to set himself just outside it, physically and morally. At the head of many chapters are short excerpts from fiery historical sermons that justify expelling the sinner from society, but the content of the book is far more persuasive testament to the short-sightedness and moral peril of doing so. I've read several other books by Ms. Davis and this one has the well-drawn characters, elegant but unlabored prose, and mile-a-minute plot that will keep readers with her, even as she shines an unwavering narrative light on the Erskine family's darkness and illuminates the possibility for salvation.
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Format: Paperback
Just finished this meticulously constructed novel and am still reveling in the sound of its prose. Lauren constructs her sentences so beautifully and builds detail upon detail into scenes that pop up in your head like film. My copy of Our Daily Bread is full of dog eared pages I am planning to go and reread for their sheer beauty.

Despite the rough underbelly of the subject matter Lauren finds moments of radiance in each character and their tragic lives. She is a classic storyteller, and this book leaves the reader satisfied knowing they have been guided along by the sure hand of someone who has mastered her craft.
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Format: Paperback
Inspired by true events in Nova Scotia, "Our Daily Bread" is a dark story. With the title and cover art being what they are and several chapters opening with sermon quotations (almost all fictitious), I thought the church would come into the story more than it did, but the silence of any visible church is Davis' critique. She has given us a novel framed by the idea that those mountain people are all trash, so what can you expect when you hear horrific tales allegedly happening to their children? If they want to live like the devil, let the devil have them. On multiple levels, the characters treat other people as outsiders and suffer for it. The few church-goers in Gideon are only concerned with their own perceived righteousness. They talk of driving out the devil and do nothing but separate themselves from ugly people.

It's a moving story. As the climax built, I honestly feared for some of the character's lives. I can't say I recommend this one, because while it has a strong pace and doesn't sound off-key even while playing such a societal dirge, it does describe very nasty things. It's hard to read about sick, abusive people.
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Very compelling look at the ways people see each other, especially when they come from different backgrounds. The characters are very interesting, and you wanted the best for them. Their reactions were realistic, and the story really kept me engaged. I found this a major page turner and finished it extremely quickly. I would recommend it to people who enjoy great fiction and enjoy even more gaining insight into prejudices.
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A very well-written novel with strong believable characters. The story pulls gently on our heart strings as the characters deal with not just the mundane but challenges that life throws at us. It is a story to which most readers will be able to relate ---its reminds us how judgemental and misplaced views and beliefs can be and the importance of just being a "good" person without imposing your beliefs or views upon others.
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