From one of our nation’s most beloved and iconic authors comes a lyrical 150th birthday gift to Canada. Jane Urquhart chooses 50 Canadian objects and weaves a rich and surprising narrative that speaks to our collective experience as a nation.
Each object is beautifully illustrated by the noted artist Scott McKowen, with Jane Urquhart conjuring and distilling meaning and magic from these unexpected facets of our history.
The fifty artifacts range from a Nobel Peace Prize medal, a literary cherry tree, a royal cowcatcher, a Beothuk legging, a famous skull and an iconic artist’s shoe, as well as an Innu tea doll, a Sikh RCMP turban, a Cree basket, a Massey-Harris tractor and a hanging rope, among an array of unexpected and intriguing objects.
Bringing the curiosity of the novelist and the eloquence of the poet to her task, Jane Urquhart composes a symphonic memory bank with objects that resonate with symbolic significance. In this compelling portrait of a completely original country called Canada, a master novelist has given all of us a national birthday bouquet like no other.
“Urquhart’s eerie, intense meditations about damaged seekers tracking salvation balance personal chaos with wider reflections on life and loss achieving an odd beauty and unsettling urgency.”
“Urquhart’s skill with words provides some wonderful imagery [in A Number of Things].”
“Richly textured prose, and an intricate, many-layered structure.”
“Urquhart has a great gift for the historical novel, for the melding of ideas, events and individuals into a significant whole. Hugely compelling and illuminating.”
“Urquhart excels at making 100 years ago feel as vibrant as yesterday. ”
“The most compelling depiction of the sense of place in human lives.”
“Urquhart shares Davies’ fascination with the roots of creativity and Carol Shields’ bent for tracing the long arc of character’s fateful transit through time. But she possessed a tartly distinctive voice of her own. It is poetic but not self-indulgent, ironic but not arch.”
“Poignant, lilting, and emotionally true . . . Urquhart creates her own spell with language.”
“Urquhart’s prose is pure gold, the kind that inspires. It has stunning imagery that revitalizes the familiar or illuminates what’s often overlooked.”
“Measured, dignified, calm on the surface, but containing as much thematic richness and pure literary pleasure as a reader could care to dig for . . .”
“Urquhart is a writer of great intelligence.”
“[Urquhart] writes with an ethereal, emotional tangibility that is both nostalgic and energetic.”
“Urquhart writes with a clear, sensuous poetry, locating her imagery in the watery Irish coastline, the wilderness forests of Upper Canada, and a developing urban sprawl on the banks of Lake Ontario.”