Welcome to She Said/She Said, where GGC Members are our book reviewers from across Canada sharing their opinions about the book of the month.
This book is intended for adults aged 18 and older, and may contain profanity, scenes of violence and sexual content.
She Said: Steph Syer,
In the beginning I was nervous – a piece of Canadian literature about a woman and her day-to-day life as a middle-aged housewife. Didn’t quite sound like 288 pages of fun, but David Bergen took me by surprise. The book follows the life of Hope through 50 years of her life. I found myself returning to the book when I had a spare moment to see what would be revealed next about our main character.
As a reader we see Hope on a constant struggle as she attempts to find her place and find out who she really is. Her life is set (grow up, go to school, drop out to marry, be a housewife) and with a quest for more, she finds it a difficult place to be. Her daughters grow up and have greater opportunities to explore themselves and the world, exemplifying the feminist movement which Hope was not privy to. As a young adult and new wife, I found it interesting to read about how different the expectations were between Hope and myself, and discovered how much had changed in less than 100 years.
In the book we meet Roy, Hope’s husband. Roy is everything a wife could want – a constant provider and supporter who gave Hope unconditional love. Hope loved Roy in the beginning, but the more she became stuck in her role as a housewife, the more discontent she became about her life. I think this exemplifies how a situation, no matter how ‘perfect’ needs to be one’s choice in order for someone to be truly happy.
Bergen has a way of taking an ordinary life of a small-town Manitoba woman and creating a page-turner. I would rate this book a 4.5/5
She Said: Jenn Boutilier
The moment I started reading this book I could tell it was going to be a great read. The author placed his story around the area of Winnipeg, Manitoba and I instantly started placing the story. I was born in Winnipeg so every time he mentioned some landmark like the hospital or the train station, I was trying to place where that actually was in the city and what it might have looked like back in the 1960s.
The main character is Hope Koop, and in her life she went through many different things that women of today experience in their lifetime. Some of the questions that Hope has to ask herself, and not always come up with the answer, are questions that most people deal with: Do my children love me? Does my husband love me? Am I doing enough for my family? This makes it very easy for so many women of today’s society to relate to Hope’s story, because at some point in our lives we will have to ask these same questions.
You have got to read this book. It brings to light that even in today’s society with all of our technology, life is (and was) not easy. Women had rough times all the time!
Brownie Leader Jenn is a Guider in Central Alberta. She loves to read and plan new games and crafts for her Unit thanks to the help of Pinterest!
She Said: Tania Mask
In The Age of Hope, Canadian author David Bergen takes us through Hope’s life. Hope is born in Eden, Manitoba in 1930 and the story begins when she is 19 and continues through to her death. There is nothing extraordinary about Hope or her life. She quits nursing school to marry Roy Koop, who owns a successful car dealership and has four children with him. Bergen, however, has masterfully told us Hope’s story in such a way that you are eager to learn what is next for Hope.
Hope struggles with depression and connecting with her children and is perhaps envious of the lives they live. Hope’s best friend Emily is a feminist, someone who at times exhilarates Hope and at other times exasperates her. Hope never really seems to be happy with her life, frequently driving to Winnipeg and picking up hitchhikers to add spice to her life. As she ages she seems to lose confidence in herself and the way she looks, frequently asking Roy if her legs look good. Eventually the economy turns and they go bankrupt losing the dealership and house. Hope even works for a while as a house cleaner.
Hope seems to be the happiest towards the end of the book – after Roy dies she seems to be free, no longer burdened by caring for another person.
This is not a genre I usually read (I tend towards books with more action), but I was captivated by Hope and read this book very quickly. It is a very light and easy read, great for when there isn’t time for a long book or after something heavier.
[Photo Credit: Nicole Wood’s Timeless Treasures Photography.]