Friday, 27 August 2010

More Canadian Fiction

Finished August 22
Annabel by Kathleen Winter
The writing in this novel just blew me away. I kept reading bits of it aloud to anyone around. I'd started doing that just a few pages into the first chapter. I've already got several other people interested in reading this, starting with my godmother, Morag.
So now, the story. We start in 1968, where in a small town in Labrador, a child is born at home to Jacinta and Treadway Blake. The baby seems to be both male and female. Only the parents and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina, present at the delivery, know this. It is decided to raise the child as a boy, Wayne. Treadway works hard to teach his child all the traditional male skills present in their hunting and fishing culture. But Wayne's feminine side, Annabel, is still there, and is nurtured by the females in his life, Jacinta, Thomasina, and his friend Wally (Wallis).
We follow Wayne through childhood where he never really fits in with the other boys, no matter how much his father tries. We see what he does with the growing knowledge of his own body. As a young adult, Wayne goes away to St. John's and we see how he struggles to find a life there, how the decisions he makes influence that, and how his father and Thomasina and Wally help him find a new way forward.
The characters are well-drawn and complex and we see them grow and change. This is going to be one of my favourite books this year. Kathleen Winter knows the land this book is set in and can write about it. She is a wonderful, expressive writer.

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