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.
"...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."