What a joy to re-read this 2007 novel. The context: Yellowknife in 1975-76, the critical time of the Berger inquiry. And such vivid characters, with romance between people and with the remote and sometimes dangerous beauty of the north. Masterful writing.
This book is subtitled “A Daughter’s Memoir”, and chronicles the last years of her parent’s lives after relocating from their home to London to a seniors residence in Ottawa. Ms. Hay’s wonderful prose describes her aged mother: “her loose skin hung off her like silken parchment … (her) bare arms were as pitiable as a ballerinas”. The decline in the health of her parents is described in depressing and brutally honest detail, proving once again that growing old is not for sissies. Ms. Hay’s relationships with her parents (and her siblings) is examined thoughtfully, carefully and critically, in particular her often fraught relationship with her tempestuous father. This is very fine writing, introspective and compelling.
This is a fabulous book, a quiet story told with perfect prose. An example: “Jim overheard and thought that he respected him enough to believe he meant what he said, and if he meant what he said, then how could he respect him?”. An insightful examination of relationships between: husband and wife, children and parents, best friends and siblings. Summers at an Ontario Lake alternate with the frenzy of NY; at its heart: this story is about the consequences of secrets and shame.