Tide Road, Valerie Compton

Goose Lane Editions

 

When Stella disappears, leaving her toddler and husband behind, her mother Sonia, a widowed farm wife and former lighthouse keeper, struggles to face the possibility that her daughter may not have slipped through the ice. She may have been pushed.

In an intensely memorable narrative with the deceptive pull of an undertow, Sonia's past, a flotsam of lost dreams, bruised hopes, and buried love, wells up to meet her. Confronted with her own history of choices and failures, Sonia is compelled to revise her perception of her daughter's life and dramatically change the way she lives her own.

Compton is a deft draughtsman of character, whose powers of description, timing, and astounding revelation coalesce into a splendidly nuanced account of the unguessed-at legacies of a life shaped by choices.

"A stark and beautiful story." Christina Decarie, Quill & Quire

"With a perfect sense of timing, Compton paces the story and the unveiling of memories in a way that keeps readers interested. Her prose is delightful and evocative." Melanie Grondin, The Rover

"A brilliant debut novel, Tide Road demands the reader's attention. What makes it so strong isn't only the exceptional quality of the writing (virtually every page is punctuated with memorable lines), but the insight into why women stay in abusive relationships, how memory and loss of identity work against them and how desperate they become to leave." Heather Craig, The Telegraph-Journal

Born and raised on Prince Edward Island, Valerie Compton now lives in Halifax, where she writes and teaches fiction writing. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review and Riddle Fence. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Gourmet Magazine, The Ottawa Citizen and Quill & Quire.

 

The Lightning Field, Heather Jessup

Gaspereau Press

Set against the backdrop of Cold War Toronto, The Lightning Field follows the lives of Peter and Lucy Jacobs from their post-war courtship through marriage and child-rearing in the suburbs. Though spanning four decades, the book pivots on the events of a single day: October 4, 1957. On this day, the Russians launch Sputnik into orbit, the Avro Arrow—the most advanced jet plane of its time, whose wings Peter Jacobs has engineered—rolls out onto the tarmac to great ceremony, and, in a nearby field, Lucy Jacobs is struck by lightning on her way to the event. In the aftermath of that day, Peter struggles with his wife’s hospitalization and recovery, the care of their children, and, eventually, the loss of his job when the Arrow project is suddenly terminated. Their children—Kier, Andy and Rose—grow up in the sheltered cul-de-sacs of their Toronto suburb, troubled by the disappointments of their parents’ world, yet drawn to the infinite possibilities inspired by Laika the space dog and the mysteries of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. If so much of what their parents hoped for in life seemed ultimately out of reach, how will this next generation of dreamers find their way? The Lightning Field is about loss and unexpected offerings, personal dismantling and reassembly.

 

Heather Jessup grew up in Vancouver and now lives in Halifax. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto and a creative writing instructor at Dalhousie University. Her fiction, poetry and reviews have been published in literary journals across Canada and in the United States. The Lightning Field is her first novel.

 

 

 

Incidents in the Life of Markus Paul, David Adams Richards

Doubleday Canada

         

On a bright morning in June 1985, a young Micmac man starts his first day of work—but by noon he is dead, killed mysteriously in the fourth hold of the cargo ship Lutheran. Hector Penniac had been planning to go to university, perhaps to study medicine. Roger Savage, a loner who has had to make his own way since his youth, comes under suspicion of killing Hector over a union card and a morning’s work. Even if he can’t quite put it into words, Roger immediately sees the ways in which Hector’s death will be viewed as symbolic, as more than an isolated tragedy—and that he is caught in a chain of events that will become more explosive with each passing day.
 
The aging chief of Hector’s band, Amos Paul, tries to reduce the tensions raised by the investigation into Hector’s death and its connection to a host of other simmering issues, from territorial lines to fishing rights. His approach leads him into conflict with Isaac Snow, a younger and more dynamic man whom many in the band would prefer to lead them—especially when the case attracts press attention in the form of an ambitious journalist named Max Doran, the first of many outsiders to bring his own agenda and motives onto the Micmac reserve. Joel Ginnish, Isaac’s volatile and sometimes violent friend, decides to bring justice to Roger Savage when the authorities refuse to, blockading the reserve in order to do so. And though perhaps no one really means for it to happen, soon a single incident grows ineluctably into a crisis that engulfs a whole society, a whole province and in some ways a whole country.
 
Twenty years later, RCMP officer Markus Paul—Chief Amos Paul’s grandson, who was fifteen years old when Hector was killed—tries to piece together the clues surrounding Hector Penniac’s death. The decades have passed, and much about the case has been twisted beyond recognition by the many ways that different people have sought to exploit it. But, haunted by the past, Markus still struggles towards a truth that will snap “those chains that had once seemed impossible to break.” (290)
 
This is a novel that begins with an instant from today’s headlines, and digs down into the marrow to explore the oldest themes we know: murder and betrayal, race and history, the brutal and chaotic forces that guide the groups we are drawn into. Nothing is one-sided in David Adams Richards’ world—even the most scheming characters have moments of grace, while the most benevolent are shown to have selfish motives, or the need to show off their goodness. All are depicted with an almost Biblical gravity, framed by an understated genius of storytelling that makes this novel at once both an utterly gripping mystery, and a vitally important document of Canada’s broken past and divided present.

“David Adams Richards’ 14th novel brilliantly scours the conscience of a community. . . . [He] moves deftly between the multiple voices and points of view . . . [and] never fails to capture the right details to a scene. . . . That Richards can consistently bring such potentially mawkish figures to vivid life is just one reason to keep reading him.”
Quill & Quire (starred review)
 
“In a stark, stunning and profound new novel, New Brunswick’s David Adams Richards (Mercy Among the Children, Nights Below Station Street) exposes Canada’s rawest nerve. . . . the construction of this novel is brilliantly conceived, and flawlessly executed. This is Richards at the height of his powers, which is very high indeed. The word masterpiece is not too strong.”
National Post (Donna Bailey Nurse)

“. . . the searing emotion and stirring probity we have come to expect of an author fighting to stave off anachronism’s claim to right and wrong, good and evil. . . . the characters themselves, who could have been frozen into moral archetypes . . . attain a welcome level of complexity. . . . Richards’s larger picture includes a moral lesson at once topical and timeless.”
The Globe and Mail

David Adams Richards’ most recent novel, The Lost Highway, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His novel The Friends of Meager Fortune won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, while Mercy Among the Children, also a novel, won the 2000 Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Trillium Book Award. Richards is also the author of the celebrated “Miramichi Trilogy” (Nights Below Station Street, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award; Evening Snow Will Bring Such Peace, winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award; and For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down), as well as the recent bestselling nonfiction book, God Is.