Plenty of Harm in God


216 pages
ISBN 0-919688-78-0
DDC C813'.6






Reviewed by R. Gordon Moyles

R. Gordon Moyles is professor emeritus of English at the University of
Alberta, the co-author of Imperial Dreams and Colonial Realities:
British Views of Canada, 1880–1914, and the author of The Salvation
Army and the Public.


A new literary talent: certainly Bath qualifies. In this, her first
novel, she displays a fertile imagination; a powerful, versatile prose
style; and an ability to create believable characters. One only wishes
the story were less oppressive.

Pregnant 20-year-old Clare Greening journeys from her native
Newfoundland to Ireland to satisfy a pact she’d made with her cousin
Gillian five years earlier after a strange course of events led to the
end of the bizarre life of Clare’s mother. Clare is convinced that her
genealogy is poisoned and believes that her death is the answer.

Clare’s journey—literally back to Ireland and her roots, but
figuratively into hell—leaves both her and her reader morally
exhausted. She, her cousin Gilly, and her lesbian friend/enemy Teffia,
relentless in their anguish, confront us endlessly with their
psychological, religious, and sexual hangups to the point of
abandonment. Not even the slight glimmers of hope and redemption or the
several fine moments of reflective description relieve the overbearing
depression. That is unfortunate—for, again, Bath is a fine novelist.
Some comic relief or the introduction of some real-life normalcy might
have resulted in a less tedious story.


Bath, Dana., “Plenty of Harm in God,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,