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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 514

The Luck of Ginger Coffey was Brian Moore’s third novel, and its setting is the Canada of the late 1950’s, a promising new world for immigrants willing to try their luck north of the Canadian-American border. Like Moore himself, James Francis (Ginger) Coffey has arrived in Canada from Ireland, certain that this land of opportunity will recognize his innate abilities and provide him and his family with a better life. As the story opens, however, Ginger is on the verge of a harsh confrontation with reality. Broke, unemployed, and caught in a snowballing series of lies to his wife, Veronica, he has spent their savings to pay off several debts and has no money to purchase the family’s return tickets to Ireland—a fact which forces him to make one last, desperate attempt to find a job.

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The reality of Ginger’s situation, however, is that he is actually qualified for very little, and his employment applications are a shaky construction of half-truths and exaggerations. Over the course of several days, his problems worsen as he is forced to accept a low-paying proofreader’s job and later learns that Gerald (Gerry) Grosvenor, the friend who helped him obtain the position, may be having an affair with his wife. When Veronica leaves him to seek a life of her own, Ginger finds his private world unraveling rapidly and his dreams of success in Canada fading. Now jealous of the affections of the wife he had come to take for granted and pained by the loss of closeness with his teenage daughter, Paulie, Ginger throws himself into his work with newfound determination. Securing a second job as a driver for a diaper delivery service, he persuades Paulie to move with him into a small flat that he has rented. His encounters with Veronica and Gerry remain anguished and embarrassing, however, and Paulie’s primary reason for choosing to live with her father seems to be the freedom from supervision that his...

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