Justin Trudeau’s memoir, Common Ground, will not pave his way to 24 Sussex Dr., or quell the baying of his critics. Nor will it do him any harm.
Let’s dispense first with the claim, already making the rounds this weekend, that the book is meaningless, or even fraudulent, because “Trudeau didn’t write it himself.” His process, as he has told several interviewers, was to dictate to editors, who compiled anecdotes into a narrative, which then came back to him for a re-write and final draft.
It would of course have been morally better, far more satisfying really, if Trudeau had sweated the thing entirely alone, by the light of a coal-oil lantern, on a battered manual typewriter. But it is 2014 and, sadly, one is allowed to make concessions to modernity in the crafting of books. Having studied Trudeau’s life, career, thinking and speeches more than most, I can say that not a line in the 289 pages of the main account rings false. He wrote it.
That is both good and bad. Much of the description of his early years will be familiar to Canadian readers. Less expected, perhaps, is his frank treatment of his parents’ breakup. It was, and remains, the most public divorce in Canadian history. Told from the point of view of a child caught in the midst, it makes for poignant reading. The account is never maudlin or self-pitying, which it could easily have become.
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