What if you could see yourself as others see you? Astra is a beguiling debut novel that reveals the different faces of one woman, as seen through the eyes of ten people over a lifetime.
Born and raised on a remote British Columbia commune, Astra Brine has long struggled to find her way in the world, her life becoming a study of the thin line between dependence and love, need and desire. Over the years, as her path intersects with others—sometimes briefly, but always intensely—she will encounter people who, by turns, want to rescue, control, become, and escape her, revealing difficult yet shining truths about who they are and what they yearn for.
There is the childhood playmate who comes to fear Astra’s unpredictable ways. The stranger who rescues her from homelessness, and then has to wrestle with his own demons. The mother who hires Astra as a live-in nanny even as her own marriage goes off the rails.
The man who takes a leap of faith and marries her.
Even as Astra herself remains the elusive yet compelling axis around which these narratives turn, her story reminds us of the profound impact that a woman can have on those around her, and the power struggles at play in all our relationships, no matter how intimate. A beautifully constructed and revelatory novel, Astra explores what we’re willing to give and receive from others, and how well we ever really know the people we love the most.
CEDAR BOWERS's fiction has been published in Joyland and Taddle Creek. Astra is her first novel. With her husband, novelist Michael Christie, and their two children, she divides her time between Galiano Island, where she grew up, and Victoria.
"A nuanced portrait of a complex character and the many ways in which she touches people’s lives. . . . Astra is a beautifully written book that challenges us to explore the idea of self and how we can appear to be so many different things to so many people. As her husband, Nick, notes, 'If I mentioned everything outstanding about Astra, we’d be here for hours.'” —Toronto Star
"Bowers is very good at tracking atmospheric shifts in domestic arrangements, things usually unspoken or misplaced that can only bloom in the wake of emotional risk." —Quill & Quire
"Cedar Bowers's debut took my breath away. In Astra, Bowers dares to contend with the many selves we all contain—those we conceal, those we perform, those we try to outrun in our search for love, belonging, and home. She holds the human heart like a diamond to the light, exposing its every fault, its every dream, its every pain that both damns and anoints. Bowers writes with the unsentimental clarity and aching wisdom of a young Alice Munro. A fiercely beautiful novel. I could not put it down." —Claudia Dey, author of Heartbreaker and Stunt
"Every once in a while, that book comes along—the one that holds you spellbound with its eloquent prose and fascinating characters, the one you can't wait to get back to each night. Astra is that book. This is storytelling at its best and writing at its finest." —Cea Sunrise Person, author of North of Normal and Nearly Normal
"Cedar Bowers has assembled, through glimpses and ellipses, a powerful, complex portrait of a fascinating woman and the lives that orbit and collide with hers. Astra is an engrossing, unique book, and a thoughtful exploration of how hard it is to truly know someone." —Rebecca Rosenblum, author of So Much Love
"Astra is a gift. A story possessing boundless empathy for human eccentricities and delivered with a stylistic and emotional precision that goes straight to the reader's heart." —Carleigh Baker, author of Bad Endings