Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 1998, ‘Larry’s Party’ is the third book I have read by Carol Shields. I read ‘Unless’ a couple of years ago but didn’t love it, didn’t review it and now can’t really remember anything about it. However, I really enjoyed The Stone Diaries back in 2013 and ‘Larry’s Party’ is very similar in many ways – both novels are fictional biographies of “ordinary” people who live quiet yet complex lives. While ‘The Stone Diaries’ spans nearly the whole 20th century, ‘Larry’s Party’ is slightly more focused in scope covering a mere two decades of the life of Laurence “Larry” J. Weller, born in 1950 in Winnipeg to English immigrant parents. Continue reading
‘Alias Grace’ by Margaret Atwood is based on the true story of Grace Marks, a servant convicted of the notorious double murder of her employer Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper and mistress Nancy Montgomery alongside stable hand James McDermott in Toronto in 1843 when she was just sixteen years old. After they were caught attempting to escape from Canada to the United States, McDermott was hanged for the crime while Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment at Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario after her death sentence was commuted at the last minute. Despite confessing to the crime at the time, Grace still claims to have no memory of the murders fifteen years later. Her sanity is being investigated by American psychiatrist Dr. Simon Jordan at the invitation of a liberal minister who believes she is innocent.
I randomly picked ‘Canada’ by Richard Ford off the shelf in a shop not long after it was first published last year and turned to the first page. I was immediately struck by the first two sentences: “First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.” As opening lines go, I found those to be pretty memorable and also very intriguing. Continue reading
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1995, ‘The Stone Diaries’ by Carol Shields is a fictional biography of Daisy Goodwill which outlines her life story in ten chapters covering her birth, childhood, marriage, love, motherhood, work, sorrow, ease, illness and death. Born in Canada in 1905, Daisy’s life spans the majority of the twentieth century and is both very ordinary and yet also highly extraordinary. Continue reading