The Ash Garden

Dennis Bock
2001
FICTION B665a

A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America… A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family left behind in Austria… A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon… Lives already in motion, unsettled by war, and about to change beyond reckoning — their pasts blurred and their destinies at once bound for the desert of Los Alamos, the woman unexpectedly en route to a refugee camp, the girl at Ground Zero and that plane the Enola Gay.In August 1945, in a blinding flash, Hiroshima sees the dawning of the modern age.

With these three characters, Dennis Bock transforms a familiar story — the atom bomb as a means to end worldwide slaughter — into something witnessed, as if for the first time, in all its beautiful and terrible power.Destroyer of Worlds.With Anton and Sophie and Emiko, with the complete arc of their histories and hopes, convictions and requests, The Ash Garden is intricate yet far-reaching, from market streets in Japan to German universities, from New York tenements to, ultimately, a peaceful village in Ontario. Revealed here, as their fates triangulate, are the true costs and implications of a nightmare that has persisted for over half a century.In its reserves of passion and wisdom, in its grasp of pain and memory, in its balance of ambition and humanity, this first novel is an astonishing triumph.

Sweetland

sweetlandMichael Crummey
2014
FICTION C956s

This a great Canadain novel set in contemporary Newfoundland. The inhabitants of the island of Sweetland must resettle elsewhere after being offered a package to depart. Only Moses Sweetland, aged 60, holds out though he is intimidated and pressured. Mortality, loss, community and history are some of the themes explored in this wonderfully evocative and heart-wrenching book.

13 ways of looking at a fat girl

fat_girlMona Awad
2016
FICTION A964t

This book is divided in 13 vignettes, and it chronicles the ups and downs of Lizzie as she struggles with her weight. It is a coming of age story, though it goes beyond this because we get to know her as a young adult and then a woman of indeteterminate age. Most women will empathize with Lizzie because most women have issues with their body. The author, sometimes sarcastically, sometimes with humour, always with a sharp and perceptive voice, exposes, through Lizzie, the very harmful and hurtful thin-culture we live in.

No Great Mischief

no_great_mischiefAlistair MacLeod
1999
FICTION M165n

This is one of the greatest Canadian books ever written and it is a masterpiece. This book will haunt you because of the exquisite beauty of the sentiment, the vivid depiction of the landscape, the masterfully crafted words and sentences. In evocative prose, Alistair MacLeod tells the story, in a series of flashbacks, of a Scottish family living in Cape Breton, of their loves and losses, and mostly of the strength and love of family and clan. Just writing these words and remembering the book brings up a swell of emotion. An absolute must-read!

The Orenda

orendaJoseph Boyden
2013
FICTION B789o

Told in three voices, this is the story of the Wendat, Hurons who must survive against their enemies the Iroquois, but who must also learn to deal with the white man and the Jesuits, with whom they trade but who also present a new civilization and sickness. Joseph Boyden draws a stricking picture of these people and their culture, their spiritual beliefs and the particular violence of their time.

Last Night in Montreal

last_night_montrealEmily St. John Mandel
2009
S774L

Since the age of 7, Lilia Albert has been on the run. Her father abducted her to keep her safe from her abusive mother but Lilia doesn’t remember what happened. With her father, she criss-crosses the United States, desperately trying to evade the detective searching for her and unable to stop traveling. The last place she flees to is Montreal. She is followed there by her ex-boyfriend and there will be a tragic outcome when the detective’s unbalanced daughter confronts her and the past is revealed.
This is a story about love, loss, obsession, and the tragedy of the family.

«I just finished a really wonderful first novel. I first checked it out of the library, but since I was so entranced by the writing and the characters, I am heading out to the bookstore today to buy a copy. I want it to be on my bookshelves, along with all those other books that just looking at (whether or not I reread them) make me glad to be a reader.»- From Nancy Pearl’s Website Book Lust Forever.

The Sisters Brothers

The-Sisters-BrothersPatrick deWitt
2011
D523s

This is the story of two brothers, Charlie and Eli Sisters, who are gunslingers and journey from Oregon City to San Francisco during the Gold Rush to capture Herman Kermit Warm. They have many funny and quixotic encounters,for example,with a weeping man, a bear, and a witch, and many violent ones also. It is a story of adventure, yes, but also of the shifting relationship between the brothers and their journey of self-discovery.
A very entertaining and satisfying book.

The Englishman’s Boy

englishman_boyGuy Vanderhaeghe
1996
V233e

The life of Harry Vincent, a young title-writer in 1920s Hollywood, collides with the story of a young drifter known as the Englishman’s boy, who in 1873 joins a group of wolf hunters in the search for a ring of horse thieves, as Harry prepares to work on a movie being made about him some fifty years later. [NoveList]