The Badger Redemption
In 1959 a labor riot in the town of Badger in Newfoundland resulted in the death of a local policeman. The violence shocked the town for years. J.A. Ricketts’ painstakingly detailed novel, third in a sequence about the riot, shows how the consequences of the Badger Riot rippled on and on through the community, and led some to grief but many others to a heightened understanding.
Ricketts knows and loves the area, and she knows the people; her account of everyday life rings with observation and empathy. Badger is a small logging town, like so many such a humble presence in a vast natural landscape, and she makes the snowy hillside, the sweep of the wind and the sleep[y murmur of a summer river vivid and dramatic. But in recreating the daily lives of the local people, she loses any sense of pace or drama. It gets very hard to tell one Badgerite from another. Even when Ricketts ventures off into time travel and the spiritualism of the vanished native people, the story seems to plod. As a record of a way of life this is impressive, and certainly historical fiction is supposed to do this. But instead of making the ordinary luminous, this novel manages to make the luminous ordinary.