Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Turtle Valley - Gail Anderson-Dargatz

This is the first novel I have read by Gail Anderson-Dargatz and I am sure it will not be the last. It is realistic in in its portrayal of characters and events and poetic in its style -- an absolutely delightful read. Finally, a novel with a female protagonist, set in Canada, written by a female Canadian writer -- a novel that doesn't drive you to the dark recesses of your mind.
This is the story of Kat, a woman at an emotional crossroad, who goes home to help her parents move their most precious possessions from their home which is threatened by a wildfire. Interwoven into this plot are the stories of her parents' and her grandparents' generations -- family secrets and skeletons are revealed --history repeats itself -- mysteries are unraveled and solved -- I absolutely loved it and am now off to the Chapter's website to see what else this writer has written.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Flying Troutsman - Miriam Toews

I came to this novel with equal amounts of enthusiasm (because I had previously read and laughed my way through A Boy of Good Breeding) and trepidation (because I had previously read and cried my way through A Complicated Kindness). Both sentiments were experienced as I read, laughed and cried my way through The Flying Troutsman. You may think that it is only the characters in this novel who are on a road trip but as a reader I found that I too was (thankfully) firmly buckled into their white knuckle emotional adventure. Once again Toews' genius for deftly painting the intricate contradictions inherent in human nature and motivation captivate the reader's attention from the very first words.

All That Matters - Wayson Choy

In All That Matters, Wayson Choy expands on the story of the Chen family first introduced in The Jade Peony. This time, Choy makes use of a single narrator, the eldest son, who has recently arrived on the west coast with his grandmother and father. What I really like about Wayson Choy's work is not only his flowing style but also the content of the plot which, with a refreshing and sometimes brutal, frank voice describes the two solitudes experienced by most first generation Canadians.

The Jade Peony - Wayson Choy

The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy was an enlightening read granting a peak into Vancouver's Chinatown. I really enjoyed the use of multiple narrators as it provided different perspectives on the family members of Chen family. I also found that the choice of youthful narrators was clever because it allowed the author to use the mouth of babes to reveal "truths" that adults might chose to politely conceal. Their understanding of their "condition" and the events of their lives was both revealing and endearing.