Author David Bergen (Courtesy Canada Writes)
In The Age of Hope, David Bergen carefully delineates the days of Hope Koop, née Plett. The novel starts with the death of Hope's first love, a debonair flyboy who is killed in a plane crash after a show-offy stunt. Bergen dispatches him with unemphatic economy right on the first page, announcing clearly that this is not going to be that kind of novel. Even Hope, once she gets over her initial shock and sorrow, begins "to understand his death as something that happened to him, not her."
Hope's response to her sudden loss reveals a core of stoic, get-on-with-it strength. (If you view Hope's reaction as cold, this might not be the book for you.) Bergen's response signals an authorial rejection of flashy gestures, self-destructive passions and big, explosive events. With a tone that is at once detached and impossibly tender, the Winnipeg-based writer focuses on the seemingly conventional life of one woman born in rural Manitoba in 1930.
Sensible Hope marries the steady and steadily prosperous Roy Koop just in time for '50s domesticity and four kids, has a few brushes with the usual '70s shenanigans, and then ages into the confusions of our current era.