Bookish in the Mitten

Book reviews, book recommendations, book talk, and a little knitting

I am sharing 20th-Century novels set in Canada – because I love 20th-Century fiction, especially mid-century, especially Canadian.  Some may be familiar, some new.  Because Wikipedia articles almost always contain spoilers, I am providing Goodreads links and hoping they don’t do the same.  Each link contains more links to purchase different editions of the title.  If I have read the book, I include my recommended reading environment – just a little whimsy.

Cat’s Eye (Margaret Atwood, 1988): My favorite Atwood novel and the only one I know of with no elements of dystopian future or books-within-books. It’s ordinary – well, except for one little mystical vision.  It’s been thirty years, but I still remember it as a readable tale about young womanhood, engaging and substantial.  It’s set in Toronto and won the City of Toronto Book Award in 1989, as well as some other awards. Read more HERE. Best read while sitting on a porch swing.

Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery, 1908): A beloved classic which I have yet to read.  I know I’m in the minority. I did read The Blue Castle, also by Montgomery and set in Canada, but since I already featured it on a blog post, to repeat it here would be cheating.  I’m sure I’ll read this at some point and I’m sure I’ll kick myself for waiting so long. Anne is the only book on this list that is available as a free Kindle edition on Amazon, so it’s the only book for which I’m including an Amazon link: HERE.

The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields, 1993):  Somewhat similar to Cat’s Eye in that it’s a first-person fictional story of a woman’s life set in Canada. Stone Diaries won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 1993 Governor’s General Award, a Canadian literature prize. Read more HERE. What I remember best is a description of the hot summer days in Canada. To get the full effect, read this book in the summer without the AC on.

The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence, 1964): I have not read this but it’s definitely on my list to be read! Main character Hagar Shipley is ninety years old, struggling with the prospect of moving into a nursing home.  The novel moves between Hagar’s present day, which is of course the 1960’s, and the past. I just added it to my Want to Read shelf in Goodreads.  You can learn more HERE.

Beautiful Losers (Leonard Cohen, 1966): I am not extremely familiar with Mr. Cohen’s written work; he has several volumes of poetry published and this is the second and final novel he wrote, well before his songwriting/singing career took off. According to Wikipedia, tale has elements of mysticism and symbolism; the author fasted and took amphetamines to focus his creative powers on the book. The mysticism and symbolism intrigue me, and I am adding this to my Want to Read shelf as well.  (When I went to Goodreads to add it, I got a clearer picture of the plot: it’s a story of sexual obsession and fascination with a 17th-Century Mohawk saint. Click HERE to read more.)

I hope at least one of these titles piques your interest! Stay well. Love each other.

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