On a book page, this tab will allow you to add a book to one of your lists.
Please login or register to use this feature.
9781550504743_cover Enlarge Cover
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $9.99
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Aug 2011
ISBN:9781550504743
publisher: Coteau Books

A Large Harmonium

by Sue Sorensen

reviews: 1
tagged:
add a tag
Please login or register to use this feature.
contemporary women, family life, humorous
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $9.99
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
category: Fiction
published: Aug 2011
ISBN:9781550504743
publisher: Coteau Books
Description

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 has published numerous stories, poems and scholarly articles in magazines and journals, and edited a collection of essays on western Canadian literature, titled West of Eden. Her interests extend from 19th and 20th century British literature – her core area of specialization – to film adaptations of literature and the examination of popular song lyrics as poetry. A member of the Henry James Society and the George Eliot Fellowship, she also has research interests in Guy Vanderhaeghe and children’s literature. A Large Harmonium is her first book publication.
Author profile page >
Editorial Review

In Sue Sorensen’s novel A Large Harmonium, the reader is privy to a year of Janey Erlickson’s life as an English literature professor, wife, and mother. Janey must plot a route through her anxieties about the advancement of her academic career, her relationship with her husband Hector (and her jealously of the advanced state of his own academic career as well as his relationship with his teaching assistant Chantal), and her connection to her son Max (as she deals with feelings of culpability for not spending enough time with him as she questions her role as a mother). Sorensen decidedly depicts Janey’s struggles as culminating in moments where she feels most inadequate as a mother. Such a moment is exemplified when Janey is forced to leave a performance by her husband’s university choir because Max has begun to scratch her face and kick her, and she bitterly recalls the hours spent ". . . singing to a child who . . . was not worthy of any of the sweet sentiments [she] expended upon him." Although Hector is at times a less-than-serious Father, particularly in the company of his longtime friend Jam, the focus of Sorenson’s novel is not on the Erlickson’s family life, but on Janey’s intimate perceptions of what an academic, a wife, and a mother should be. The culmination of these societal expectations is best illustrated in a scene where Janey attends a Tupperware party at a neighbor’s house. Comparing herself to the other neighborhood mothers makes Janey view her degree as a useless and tacky display hung around her neck. "I took a course in Latin once" she muses, "but can I do origami or organize a successful party for sixteen rugrats?"

Buy the e-book:

Reader Reviews

Sign Up or Sign In to add your review or comment.
Librarian review

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.

Related Blog Posts

Reading Lists Featuring “A Large Harmonium”

User Activity

X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...