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From the front porch...

I live in an older part of London. One of our special neighbourhoods where houses have front porches, sidewalks are busy with people strolling leisurely by and variety stores, mailboxes and schools are within walking distance. In my neighbourhood, we gather regularly on various front porches during the warm months and, invariably, at one point I am asked for reading recommendations. During the winter, I miss these spontaneous neighbourhood gatherings and my chance to share enthusiastically about books I've read.

So I though I'd share a few "do not miss" Canadian titles and authors with you. If you like books with main female characters, set in Canada and not "chick lit", you may enjoy some of the following. I will avoid mentioning ones you've likely already read, well-known recent titles such as Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures  and A Complicated Kindness,  in favour of some you may have missed when they came out.

Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey is set in the 1950's in an outport in Newfoundland. It's the story of Sylvanus and Adelaide, an intelligent woman raised in extreme poverty who doesn't quite fit in with the other women on the coast.  This powerfully-written novel is about facing what life brings, both personally and as a nation with modernization threatening a way of life.

book cover imageRose and Ruby are the narrators in the novel The Girls by Lori Lanssens. Set in Southern Ontario, these 29 year old twin sisters are conjoined at the head. Their voices alternate with the chapters and each character's unique personality and individuality shines. Urgency is given to the writing as there in an aneurysm in Rose's brain that could rupture at any time and kill both of them. This book is so good that, although it was published in 2005, all our 31 copies are currently out so you'll need to place a hold on it!



book cover imageHeather O'Neill's book, Lullabies for Little Criminals, was one of the Canada Reads selections in 2007. Set in Montreal, the novel is narrated by Baby, a 13 year old being raised by her young, single, drug addict father, Jules, in the 1970's. The novel spans Baby's teenage years and her voice is so clear that you feel like she's speaking the words into your ear. It is fascinating to read Baby's interpretation of events she sees through her eyes. While old beyond her years in some ways, she retains a naivety that tears at your heart. This is one of those books that you won't be able to put down, even when it's 1 am and you need to get up for work at 7.



book cover imageJane Urquhart is a local author whose work I enjoy. Her novel,  Away, spans generations of the O'Malley family and begins with the first O'Malleys leaving Ireland during the famine of the 1840's and settling in Ontario. There is a thread of the mystical and the inevitable running through the lives of the women in this family.  A melancholy and riveting read.



These are just four of the hundreds of Canadian books I've read. Are there novels by Canadian writers that you would recommend? I'd love to hear about it!