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Not Worth the Wait
on March 1, 2008
This is a sequel to Ms. Morgan's successful novel Random Passage, which was also published under the name Cape Random. The story begins in the 1980s in Ottawa and follows Lavinia Andrews, a descendant of the Cape Random Andrews family, who is assigned to a government middle-management position in St. John's, Newfoundland. In St. John's Archives, Lavinia ("Lav") comes across the journal kept by her namesake 150 years earlier. Since the time that we last saw the journal in Random Passage, it has been supplemented by the comments of Mary Bundle, one of the main characters in the earlier book. The first and last parts of the present book tell a story of the demise of Newfoundland's fishing industry in the 1980's. Sandwiched between those two parts is Mary Bundle's narrative that continues the tale of the original settlers of the cape.
Like many other sequels, Waiting for Time fails to achieve the level of the original work. The destruction of cod fishing is given short shrift. There is precious little detail. The crisis is presented in "he said-she said" fashion in the first part of the book; and is presented as a fait accompli at the end. Whereas the ending of Random Passage left the future of the family to the imagination of the reader, Waiting for Time fills in the blanks. It is almost as though the author originally intended to follow the cape families for two centuries but was persuaded that the latter material weakened and unduly lengthened the novel. Publishing that material as a separate novel does not cure the weakness. The unexpected twists and turns that were so interesting in Random Passage now appear like parts of a shallow soap opera.
About halfway through the book, I was tempted to set it aside and start another novel; but I had invested too much time in it. It didn't get any better.