Claremont by Wiebke von Carolsfeld

One of the welcome surprises I get from time to time is reading a work of fiction set in a location near where I used to live. Claremont by Wiebke von Carolsfeld (2019, Linda Leith Publishing) is set not only in Toronto but in the Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood where I lived for about a year back in the late 1980s. We rented a house on Massey Street (technically in neighbouring West Queen), just a stone’s throw (OK, a 9-minute walk!) to 46 Claremont St.… Continue reading

Broken Man on a Halifax Pier by Lesley Choyce

Fifty-five-year-old Charles Howard has lost his long-time journalism job and has been swindled out of his life savings. Standing by the edge of Halifax Harbour on a foggy morning, contemplating his dismal future, his ritual of self-pity is interrupted with the appearance of the mysterious and beguiling Ramona Danforth.

Melba’s Wash by Reesa Steinman Brotherton

Grand Manan Island is part of the province of New Brunswick and has a population of just over 2,000 (as of 2016). It is also the setting for Melba’s Wash by Reesa Steinman Brotherton, who was born in New Brunswick, and whose own story slightly follows that of Esther, the main protagonist.

It’s difficult to summarize the storyline of Melba’s Wash. As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think of Eric Dupont’s Songs for the Cold of Heart: both have similar plots, spanning generations and various settings, and with a mirthful undertone for what is a dramatic story full of poverty, teen pregnancies, more pregnancies, deaths and secrets, lots of secrets.… Continue reading

Side by Side by Anita Kushwaha

According to the Government of Canada website, every day, an average of more than 10 Canadians dies by suicide. For every person lost to suicide, many more experience thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts. For every death by suicide, at least 7 to 10 survivors are significantly affected by the loss. For Kavita Gupta, the protagonist of Anita Kushwaha’s award-winning novel Side by Side, it is the loss of her brother Sunil that has affected her and her parents.… Continue reading

A Joy To Be Hidden by Ariela Freedman

Having enjoyed two of Linda Leith Publishing’s recent titles (Hutchison Street and The Philistine) I picked up Ariela Freedman’s newest novel, A Joy to be Hidden hoping the quality of writing would be sustained. A few pages in, and I was entirely hooked into reading it. While her protagonist Alice Stein is likeable, it is Ms. Freedman’s intimate description of a corner of New York City in the late 90s that makes A Joy to be Hidden a real joy to read.… Continue reading