Just what are the best sins for each climate? Should we change our behaviour?

A Book Review for NetGalley

Practical Sins


Shelley Costa

Somewhere in the cold far north of Canada, there are some lakes that experience a brief summer. A summer full of rain, fog and mosquitoes. But a summer where birds hatch chicks on the lakes and if you are so inclined you can catch fish. You may even catch sight of the loons with their chicks riding on their backs [photo].

In these watery environs you boat or canoe to your destination. Your destination may well be an island and your nearest neighbour is on the next island but one, and it takes 30 mins by boat to go and shop for food, but your family has a cabin here and has been coming here every summer for 100 years or so, and you love the rustic atmosphere.

You sit on Adirondack chairs (which personally I find very uncomfortable). You cover sofas with hand- made afghans and your beds with hand-made quilts of all the summer dresses your forebears wore and cut up when they got too dilapidated.

Your window shutters are held open by hand-hewn logs and you use Native American craftwork for baskets and wall-coverings and rugs. Sometimes you still use the outhouse dug out at the back of the property too.

And when the brief summer ends, you g home to your urban life, sunburnt, covered in mosquito bites, but a little fitter and ready to watch Cable and Netflix and drink cappuccino with multi flavours and eat muffins on the way to work in your glass-sided office block. Warm and safe from wild life and full of noise and bustle.

But some people stay on back at the Northern wilderness. Some are hermits and have run away from the world, or have run to a life that is simpler and others are native to the area and their tribes have lived there for all their memory.

But these tranquil shores are ripe. Ripe to develop. More cottages and marinas and lake shore amenities.

There is the demand.

There is also a continuing demand for good wood from well grown trees – such as the forests that surround the lakes. And the easiest way to obtain this wood is to clear-cut the hills. To de-forest and not to replant.

Prior to the arrival of European-Americans in 1600, about one half of the United States land area was forest, about 4,000,000 square kilometres (990,000,000 acres). 95% of the original forests were logged during the past 200 years.

Clearcutting produces: Torrential floods wash away the rich topsoil and gouge deep ravines, exposing rocks, clay or sand. The bare earth is saturated with plant-killing chemicals, the land bulldozed, the remaining branches and fallen tree trunks soaked with gasoline and set on fire; every living thing above and below the ground is dead. The entire scene is crisscrossed with dirt roads leading to…nowhere. Only 20% of the US forests are protected.

Once a logging company deforests an area, the landowner now has several acres of clear land. Prompted by money, a landowner can sell these acres to developers for new housing complexes.

So your sins relate to the practicalities of living in this wilderness area. Adultery is always popular, but sometimes the only way out is murder.

Into this life comes Valjean looking for her hermit author.

I really liked this story and thought it was well written. However, there were times when I got somewhat confused about the characters and their relationships to each other.

Overall good story. Some interesting ideas and concepts and morality questions raised.

4 stars.



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