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list price: $29.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Feb 2015
ISBN:9780771036552

A Beauty

by Connie Gault

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literary
3 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $29.95
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Feb 2015
ISBN:9780771036552
Description

A spellbinding and highly original novel that gives a new name to the Prairie Novel by one of the most exciting new literary voices in Canada. For readers of Alice Munro, Elizabeth Hay, and Marina Endicott.
     In a drought-ridden Saskatchewan of the 1930s, self-possessed, enigmatic Elena Huhtala finds her self 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.

Contributor Notes

CONNIE GAULT is the author of two collections of short stories, several plays for stage and radio and the novel Euphoria, winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and short-listed for the High Plains Fiction Award and the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book of Canada and the Caribbean. She lives in Regina.

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

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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Reader Reviews

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Depression Era Sask.

3.5/5. I enjoyed this book. It was a quick and easy read for me. I liked the characters and this was important as it is an entirely character driven book. The plot is fairly simple. Set during the depression, in Saskatchewan, a poverty-stricken 18yo girl leaves one evening from a town hall dance with a stranger in his Roadster. I really enjoyed the narrative technique which I found rather unique. Each chapter is titled after a town that the couple journeys through. First, we are introduced to a resident of the town and then Bill and Elena will cross paths with them. The glimpses of all these secondary characters are very intimate and while the "beauty" of the title is Elena we become attached to the others as well. The story meanders back and forth between the various towns until twenty years later in the fifties when we see the same people, some of them came out of the depression with better lives, others not so much. It is a lovely, flowing, character driven story with no real action, which is ok, I don't need plot-based novels. My main problem with the book was its upbeat tempo, there was no real crisis, the one major plot point that needed to be answered was left dangling and the ending was too hopeful. I've read other depression era Canadian prairie literature and had expected stark reality over this optimism. Not bad but not what I had anticipated.

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