No Great Mischief

No Great Mischief

Book - 2001
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Random House, Inc.
Alistair MacLeod musters all of the skill and grace that have won him an international following to give us No Great Mischief, the story of a fiercely loyal family and the tradition that drives it.

Generations after their forebears went into exile, the MacDonalds still face seemingly unmitigated hardships and cruelties of life. Alexander, orphaned as a child by a horrific tragedy, has nevertheless gained some success in the world. Even his older brother, Calum, a nearly destitute alcoholic living on Toronto's skid row, has been scarred by another tragedy. But, like all his clansman, Alexander is sustained by a family history that seems to run through his veins. And through these lovingly recounted stories-wildly comic or heartbreakingly tragic-we discover the hope against hope upon which every family must sometimes rely.
The following questions, discussion topics, and author biography are intended to enhance your group's reading of Alistair MacLeod's first novel, No Great Mischief . This beautiful, elegiac novel portrays a tightly-knit Scottish family plagued by loss and clinging loyally to the legacy of its heroic past.

Baker & Taylor
Alexander MacDonald, an orphaned youth in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, spends a summer in the mines with his wild older brothers during a season that ends in murder. A first novel. Reprint. 50,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Vintage Books, 2001
Edition: 1st Vintage international ed
ISBN: 9780375726651
Characteristics: 283 p. ; 21 cm


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WVMLStaffPicks Dec 11, 2014

A beautiful novel by an under-appreciated Canadian writer, which traces a family of Cape Bretoners back to their Scottish roots and the Battle of Culloden, and forward to the present day. Good fortune and bad, humour and tragedy are all explored with a compassionate and authentic voice.

Jun 09, 2014

I've read it twice. A Nice Canadian novel. A little repetitive. Easy to read (not challenging). A little dated.

May 16, 2013

You meet Alexander as he visits his older, alcoholic brother, Calum. Whereby he gives you glimpses into his current life, as well as, tells his story from where it began hundreds of years earlier to help you understand his family or clan, and how they relate to each other. His story tells of heartache, loss, love, warmth, survival, and belonging to the Donald clan is more than just skin deep. Enjoyed.

Jul 04, 2011

A family history that recounts the ties between father and sons; and brothers. The great grandfather immigrates to Cape Breton with his twelve children (losing his wife on the voyage). They come and settle in to Cape Breton. This book provides a history of family, and tales of family ties, that span several generations. It is interesting the ties that keep the family together - no matter what. A well written, memorable book.

May 06, 2011

Wonderful book! I have been reading this year's Giller Prize short-listed books and felt frustrated. I picked this up by chance and this is exactly what I felt I was missing! I loved the storytelling, the relation of the immigrant experience, the love of family.

May 05, 2010

An enjoyable read that captures the immigrant experience in Canada.

Feb 27, 2010

Good read from the Maritimes

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