Ramya’s Treasure by Pratap Reddy

Poor Ramya. A Hindu woman in her late 40’s finds herself out of work (due to downsizing), separated from her husband, childless and nearly friendless. Plus, she is suffering from depression. So much so that she cannot even motivate herself to fill out her papers to get EI assistance. This is the state we meet Ramya in at the beginning of Ramya’s Treasure, Pratap Reddy’s first novel, which follows on the heels of his captivating compilation of short stories, Weather Permitting and Other Stories, published in 2016.… Continue reading

The Small Things That End the World by Jeannette Lynes

Jeannette Lynes’ new book about The Small Things That End the World (2018, Coteau Books) begins with two BIG things: Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In between these two monumental storms plenty of “little things” happen to the three main protagonists, Sadie Wilder, Faith Crouch and her daughter Amber. Three generations of women who pluckily face what life serves them up, from Toronto to Thunder Bay to New Orleans, from a tumbledown farm north of Toronto to a strip club to a senior’s care home.… Continue reading

Following the River: Traces of Red River Women by Lorri Neilsen Glenn

Towards the end of Lorri Neilsen Glenn’s enthralling memoir-like journey of discovery Following the River: Traces of Red River Women (2017, Wolsak & Wynn), she states:

“When we consider countless horrors in the world, innumerable disasters and catastrophes, a ship consumed by fire on a late summer night is but only one. Unremarkable, yet its dark stroke colours lives for generations.”

The ship in question was the SS Premier, a ship that plied the waters of Lake Winnipeg, carrying people and cargo south to north, north to south.… Continue reading

Watermark by Jennifer Farquhar

When I was a young lad, my parents owned a cottage that fronted on a small lake in South Eastern Ontario. While I swam in the water by day, I never ventured near the shore at night. That was when all kinds of things came forth out of the depths to languish on the shore – or so my young mind reasoned. In Jennifer Farquar’s Watermark (2018, Latitude 46 Publishing) Mina McInnis and her brother David actually sneak out of their house at night to swim in the cold waters of Lake Huron!… Continue reading

Through Sunlight and Shadows by Raymond Fraser

Sadly, Through Sunlight and Shadows would prove to be Raymond Fraser’s swan song, as he passed away just a few short months after its publication. It is his fourteenth book of fiction and is an all-new volume of “memoirs” of his fictional/semi-autobiographical character, Walt Macbride. While regular readers of Mr. Fraser’s will be familiar with Walt in all his manifestations, his youngest days growing up in Bannonbridge (an alias for Chatham, NB) are lesser-known.… Continue reading

The Land’s Long Reach by Valerie Mills-Milde

This is the book that I was awaiting from Valerie Mills-Milde. I had to patiently wait two years from the time that her exceptional debut novel After Drowning (2016, Inanna Publications) was released. That book won a 2017 IPPY Silver Medal for Contemporary Fiction. Of After Drowning, I stated: “After Drowning is an intriguing, well-paced and mysteriously captivating story of everyday lives impacted by tragic events and the collateral damage they inflict as well as the long road back to recovery and reconciliation.” In a sense, The Land’s Long Reach is also a captivating story of lives impacted by tragic events (WWI, domestic violence) and the collateral damage inflicted (mental, medical and psychological stress, strained family relationships) on each and every character. … Continue reading

Quarry by Catherine Graham

Acclaimed poet Catherine Graham’s debut novel Quarry (2017, Two Wolves Press) is the type of story that takes me back to two places: my high school English class and my family’s summer cottage. Firstly, it is exactly the type of book that our English teacher would have had us read as a class, then dissect and/or write a book review of. Very much like we did with The Stone Angel and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.… Continue reading