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Fiction Small Town & Rural

A Beauty

by (author) Connie Gault

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Oct 2015
Small Town & Rural, 21st Century, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2015
    List Price

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In a drought-ridden Saskatchewan of the 1930s, self-possessed, enigmatic Elena Huhtala finds herself living alone, a young Finnish woman in a community of Swedes in the small village of Trevna. Her mother has been dead for many years, and her father, burdened by the hardships of drought, has disappeared, and the eighteen-year-old is an object of pity and charity in her community. But when a stranger shows up at a country dance, Elena needs only one look and one dance before jumping into his Lincoln Roadster, leaving the town and its shocked inhabitants behind. What follows is a trip through the prairie towns, their dusty streets, shabby hotel rooms, surrounded by dry fields that stretch out vastly, waiting for rain. Elena's journey uncovers the individual stories of an unforgettable group of people, all of whom are in one way or another affected by her seductive yet innocent presence. At the centre is Ruth, a girl whose life becomes changed in unexpected ways. She and the girl Elena, distanced and apart, form a strange bond that will come to haunt the decades for them both. Written in luminous prose, threaded through with a sardonic wit and deep wisdoms, A Beauty is at one time lyrical and tough, moving and mysterious, a captivating tale of a woman who, without intending to, touches many lives, and sometimes alters them forever.

About the author

Connie Gault writes fiction and plays. Her published works include the Coteau Books short story collections, Some of Eve's Daughters (1987), and Inspection of a Small Village (1996). She has also published four plays, Sky, The Soft Eclipse, Otherwise Bob, and Red Lips. Her work has appeared in anthologies such as The Oxford Book of Stories by Canadian Women, Turn of the Story: Canadian Stories for the Millennium, and Best Canadian Stories, as well as in several drama anthologies. Her plays have been produced across Canada and her radio dramas have aired on CBC and the BBC World Service. Her work has also been presented internationally in Ireland, Bermuda, the United States and Mexico. Inspection of a Small Village, the title story of her second collection, received the Prairie Schooner Reader's Choice Award from the University of Nebraska in 1994. Another story The Fat Lady with the Thin Face, was adapted for a film, Solitude, produced by Regina’s Robin Schlacht. The collection received the 1996 City of Regina Book Award at the Saskatchewan Book Awards. She is the 2007 recipient of the City of Regina Writing Award. A past fiction editor of Grain magazine, she has taught many creative writing classes and often mentors emerging writers through the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Mentorship Program. Born in rural Saskatchewan, she has lived in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia and now makes her home in Regina.  Euphoria is her first novel.

Connie Gault's profile page


  • Winner, Saskatchewan Book Awards University of Regina Book of the Year Award
  • Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize

Editorial Reviews

LONGLISTED 2015 – Scotiabank Giller Prize

“Connie Gault locates the kernel of solitary pain at the heart of our romance with romance in this scintillating novel about inventing oneself out of the glowing prairie dust.”  – Elizabeth Hay
“This radiant novel is filled with vivid life: startling, clear, and real. Connie Gault’s unadorned, transparent prose and her ruthless but loving intelligence make her one of Canada’s very best writers.”
– Marina Endicott, author of Good to a Fault
“Gault’s prose is so evocative she makes readers homesick for the land, even those who’ve never ridden across the Prairies under a setting sun…. Characters are richly drawn, their lives woven together as the years pass…. A Beauty is a novel of loss, longing and love. Sometimes the love isn’t expressed in words but in the silences that hang between repressed souls who yearn to be understood — and so seldom are.” – Toronto Star
“Gault… has that rare talent that makes every character important, no matter how apparently peripheral their role in the story.” – Globe and Mail
“The novel brings to mind faint echoes of small-town life as portrayed in Dianne Warren’s Cool Water as well as the Prairie dustbowl in Elizabeth Hay’s A Student of Weather…. This poignant novel about ordinary people has much to offer – vivid characterization, a compelling story and an exploration of universal themes such as loss, belonging and the nature of forgiveness.” – Winnipeg Free Press

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