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list price: $4.95
edition:eBook
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category: Fiction
published: Aug 2011
ISBN:9781550504743
publisher: Coteau Books

A Large Harmonium

by Sue Sorensen

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contemporary women, family life, humorous
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $4.95
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Aug 2011
ISBN:9781550504743
publisher: Coteau Books
Description

English Lit professor Janey Erlicksen wonders if she's coming unravelled, as her daily life progresses through the onslaught from work, friends and family, and her despotic toddler Little Max.

Janey knows she should be trying to put her academic career on the map, but how? She'll more readily poke fun at than engage in yet another overly dry and theoretical conference. And her husband and their friends simply encourage her off the serious academic path, providing anarchic ideas from Foucault-in-snowsuits to erotic poetry addressed to the harmonium collecting dust in the music department. A Large Harmonium is a sharply comical year-in-the-gloriously-unruly- life story. We follow Janey as she negotiates motherhood (“Little Max is a Roald Dahl story, I decide”); career (“the whole enterprise starts to resemble a lion-taming act without the lions”); frightful in-laws (“At breakfast, the two of them are serene and fit-looking. I never can see how people look like that in the morning”); and which literary hero her husband Hector most resembles (“Rochester! Why should I be Rochester? He's a bastard. And he has to be blinded and lose an arm or something before he can be tamed.”) Along the way, she relies on Hector, boy-wonder babysitter Rene, and even crazy unreliable friend Jam. And on Jake, the understanding minister who helps her pick her way through it all.

About the Author
Sue Sorensen lives in Winnipeg, where she teaches English at Canadian Mennonite University. Her latest book (2014) is The Collar: Reading Christian Ministry in Fiction, Television, and Film. She is the author of A Large Harmonium (2011), and the editor of West of Eden: Essays on Canadian Prairie Literature (2008). She is a published poet and has done academic work on topics ranging from A. S. Byatt, Henry James, Ian McEwan, and Guy Vanderhaeghe to detective fiction, children's books, rock lyricists, and the filmmaking of Neil Young.
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Editorial Review

"...a very fine, plausible and articulate novel. Although it is set in Winnipeg, with references to Rae and Jerry's, the Viscount Gort, the Millennium Library and other local institutions, it tells a universal story, one that offers believable glimpses of contemporary middle-class life and the frustration and fatigue that accompany juggling careers, day care, parenthood, passions, hobbies, aging, faith, friends and family obligations."

— Winnipeg Free Press Review of A Large Harmonium

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A Large Harmonium

Janey and Hector Erlicksen are fortysomething university professors in Winnipeg, Manitoba – she concentrates on contemporary literature in the English department, he is writing an opera and teaches in the Music department. They have an enviable marriage, full of friendship and passion. Janey and Hector have a four year old son, Max, who peppers the novel with periodic bouts of cuteness but is largely absent at playdates or in childcare. They love Max, but he is somewhat of a bit player in their adult-oriented lives. Their main priorities are each other and the microcosm of the university, fulfilling Freud’s mandate that adult life should be about love and work. Nevertheless, Janey finds herself at a loss, starting projects she never finishes, worrying needlessly about her husband’s loyalty, and feeling unnecessarily awkward when she interacts with anyone who is not her husband. Janey is a lovably vulnerable character in the tradition of Bridget Jones or Kate Reddy. Although not in a fully fledged depression, she is certainly in some sort of crisis, and A Large Harmonium follows Janey over the course of a year as she struggles to find herself again.

A Large Harmonium does an excellent job of capturing the displacement felt by many women in their thirties and forties. Told in a highly conversational, almost breezy style, the novel is funny in a fairly understated way and paints a very real portrait of academic life. The novel will resonate with fans of Elizabeth Berg, Laurie Colwin and other writers who handle the passages of women’s lives with warmth and humour.
Also appeared on my blog: www.theteatimereader.wordpress.com.

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