The luck of the Irish meets the Great Canadian Dream., April 29, 2003
Reviewer: from Ottawa, Ontario Canada
I truly love this book. In it, Brian Moore explores one man's heroic attempt to shift position in the world. Ginger Coffey leaves the unpromising economic situation in Dublin Ireland to pursue his idea of the Great Canadian Dream. With wife and daughter in tow, he arrives in Montreal in the dead of winter with $15.03 to his name. He has been waiting a long time for this golden opportunity. It soon becomes apparent however, that Canada was not as eagerly waiting for him!
He manages to land a job at The Tribune, but rather than his desired position as journalist, he wallows among the other galley slaves as a lowly proofreader. They collectively suffer under an exploitative and humiliating boss, MacGregor. Because of his radical Irish optimism, Coffey is blind to the emptiness of the editor's promise to promote him to journalist "one day soon". Before that mysterious day which never arrives, Coffey is further forced to augment his meager wages by accepting a job as a diaper delivery man for a company called TINY-ONES. Is this the Utopia that he crossed an ocean for? Utopia-shmopia! But while his Great Canadian Dream is shattering he hears some trans-Atlantic gossip that suggests the situation back in Ireland is even worse! So his choice of Montreal is now an irrevocable one, if for no other reason than it at least affords him some anonymity until he hits the big time. But even this anonymity is brutalized one day when he encounters an old Dublin girlfriend while he is in the full garb of his TINY-ONES uniform. This is only one of a series of humiliations that Coffey experiences, not the least of which is the fact that his marriage is threatened, and he fears that his wife Vera is involved with an associate of his. His fears are correct... her involvement with the successful journalist Gerry Grosvenor amounts to a sort of clandestine infidelity, but unknown to Ginger, it has not been adulterous. At any rate, soon they are poised for a divorce. But the coup de grace in Ginger's bad luck comes one cold winter night as he stumbles...