Book Reviews

Hamilton Romance

Beasley Novel is a Romantic Rant

David Beasley has released a story about a Hamilton love story gone askew. Hamilton Romance: A Hamilton-Toronto Nexus. Would you believe that Hamilton, our tough-as-nails town of belching smoke stacks, Sheila Copps, two-fisted bread winners and the eat-em-raw Tiger-Cats, is also the main setting for a mushy love story? It's true. The story has materialized from local writer David Beasley's recently re-issued novel entitled Hamilton Romance: A Hamilton Toronto Nexus. The novel is a thoughtful and often humorous story. Set in 1945/46, the story focuses on how the romantic inclinations of Tom Davis, his older sister Nancy, her girl-friend Cathy Rymal and ex-hockey hero Skip Burke impact upon each other's lives. Davis, a twenty-year-old first year law student, is attracted to Rymal, an exquisitely beautiful, but selfish, spoiled little rich girl. Cathy, who must always have her own way in everything (or else!), has little interest in Tom, especially after his sister Nancy appears to have beaten her in landing Burke. Jealous and angry, she lures Burke away while Nancy is out of Hamilton. Tom, who is away at Osgoode Hall in Toronto, deals with his loss of Cathy by lusting after Melanie Armstrong, a University of Toronto student he had previously met at a party in Westdale. Although the plot sounds quite nonsensical, it would be a mistake to dismiss Beasley's romance as a Harlequin wannabe. Originally written in 1957, the novel tackles what would have then been considered issues that were seldom discussed outside of the gymnasium locker room. (I know, because as a teenager myself back in 1957, subjects like financing back alley abortions for girls-in-trouble, or accepting a loveless marriage as punishment for going-too-far, were pretty heady, jock-talk topics.) Beasley, who cleverly uses first person narrator Tom Davis as his alter-ego, also questions the value of religion in daily life, pointedly criticizes the disdain he sees Hamilton's elites displaying towards those excluded from their social circle. He also attacks the greedy for arrogantly ignoring the society in which they reside. "The big industrialists who lived at the foot of the mountain were leaders who carried out the tradition of adding to their fortunes while doing nothing toward the improvement of anything outside their front gardens," he writes. Composed with youthful vigour, the book is an enjoyable, rebellious, anti-establishment rant, whose sesquicentennial-year release deserves a wide audience.

by Gord Jackson, View



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