Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The December Selection

"I was surprised my quilt and pillow were cold,
I see that now the window's bright again.
Deep in the night, I know the snow is thick,
I sometimes hear the sound as bamboo snaps."
- BaiJuyi, Night Snow

Dear members,

Just in time for the holiday season:  a new book club pick  to cosy up to on quiet evenings. 
For the month of December, we look to Kathleen Winter's "Annabel".

In 1968, into the beautiful, spare environment of remote coastal Labrador, a mysterious child is born: a baby who appears to be neither fully boy nor girl, but both at once. Only three people are privy to the secret - the baby's parents, Jacinta and Treadway, and a trusted neighbour, Thomasina. Together the adults make a difficult decision: to raise the child as a boy named Wayne. But as Wayne grows to adulthood within the hyper-masculine hunting culture of his father, his shadow-self - a girl he thinks of as "Annabel"- is never entirely extinguished, and indeed is secretly nurtured by the women in his life. Haunting and sweeping in scope, Annabel is a compelling tale about one person's struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction. 

About the author:

Kathleen Winter  is a Canadian short story writer and novelist., born in Bill Quay near Gateshead in the north of England and raised in Newfoundland and Labrador. She began her career as a  script writer for Sesame Street before becoming a columnist for The Telegram in St. John's Her debut short story collection, boYs, was published in 2007 and won that year's  Winterset Award and Metcalf-Rooke Award.
Annabel was published in 2010, and won the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. It was in the shortlisted nominee for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the 2010 Governor General's Awards. It held the distinction of being the only novel to make the short list of all three awards in 2010. In 2011 it was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction.
She currently  lives in Montreal with her husband and is the sister of novelist Michael Winter.
-(taken from good old Wiki)

Additionally, here's a clip of the author being interviewed about "Annabel".


 I must admit, I've already passed the first two chapters and I'm already loving it!
 As well, thank you to everyone who turned up at our seventh meeting! We had a great discussion about our previous pick, G.M. Malliet's "Wicked Autumn", which left us to wonder what the author has in store next for the former MI5 agent turned vicar, Max Tudor! Then it was on to some fun gift exchanges, which left us quite content with what we've chose!

Happy reading!


Saturday, 10 December 2011

Nether Monkslip

The Village

"The village of Nether Monkslip nestled with its narrow river beneath a high ridge called Hawk Crest. A steep and winding path led to the brow of this promontory, which was the site of the gap-toothed remains of an ancient stone circle. A visitor on first reaching the top of the Crest, as villagers called it, and seeing the village below, might catch his or her breath in wonder that anything so pristine could have survived into the twenty-first century."

 ( From G.M. Malliet's website)

 G.M. Malliet's "Wicked Autumn" certainly establishes a charming setting- an English village we dream of venturing into. Additionally, you can find an interactive version of this map on her website, which gives you fun bits about each building.
I have always found maps within books an additional bonus, whether it be Middle Earth or Nether Monkslip. It makes me wish that some of these places exist! Perhaps they do- but hidden within our sight.

Max Tudor is certainly an interesting character! The former MI5 agent turned Vicar of a small village has its own interesting background to begin with- sort of like Father Brown meets James Bond. Who do you picture as Max Tudor?
In an interview, Malliet focuses on duality in her mystery. In Max' experience, "People...were always a combination of good and bad, of wisdom and foolishness." Max, himself, has two different lives and they come together in this book, as he searches for the killer.

Hope everyone's enjoying this read so far!