Certainty by Madeleine Thien

474662This is a great book, really two love stories spanning two generations set in North Borneo (WWII, now Malaysia), Vancouver and The Netherlands. It is a compelling story of secrets and sorrows of the past, and grief and loss (a phrase: “ routine .. to keep their thoughts contained”). This may be the only time I have recommended two books by the same author in a single month.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/474662.Certainty?from_search=true

Cereus Blooms At Night by Shani Mootoo

111653A fierce story of Mala, a multi-layered individual: fiercely protective of her sister after her mother leaves; driven to murder by sexual abuse by her father; an interesting issue of her sanity when she is institutionalized. A book filled with vivid characters. (This is also on the CBC list; last month I recommended Valmiki’s Daughter)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/111653.Cereus_Blooms_at_Night?from_search=true

Dogs At The Perimeter by Madeleine Thien

10129122This is a heartbreaking story of Cambodia in the 1970s, horrors that persist two decades later in Canada. A haunting phrase: “Hunger was erasing my being”; reality becomes blurred in such horrible circumstances. Thien was at Blue Metropolis last May in Montreal.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10129122-dogs-at-the-perimeter

  A Tap On The Window by Linwood Barclay

A very good mystery by a Canadian author (chosen from the CBC List of 100 Authors who make us proud to be a Canadian).  This is a plot-driven mystery, so not much description of place. An intrepid private eye solves several murders, with the usual corrupt police force. There is a good surprise at the ending!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16072980-a-tap-on-the-window16072980

The Epicure’s Lament by Kate Christensen

Hugo is obnoxious, cynical and bitter with self-loathing, so a thoroughly unpleasant person who has chosen to be a hermit. His choice of suicide to end his life (spoiler alert) is thwarted leading to a not entirely satisfactory ending but the writing is excellent throughout. (You may remember that I recommended another Christensen book 41nvoth05bllast month, The Great Man)

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/148216.The_Epicure_s_Lament

The Great Man – Kate Christensen

The Great ManOn one level, this is a great book about art in NY. But at its core, this is about relationships – the three women who were intimately involved in the life of a painter who has just died: his sister, wife and long-time lover. The story revolves around the different viewpoints of these three strong women, mostly from when they are old (70s-80s).