2017 Evergreen Award, Forest of Reading — Nominated
A sister. A baby. A man who watches from the trees.
Fara and her husband buy a house with a disturbing history that reawakens memories of her own family tragedy. Maddy still lives in the house, once a hippie commune, where her daughter was kidnapped twenty-seven years ago. Rose grew up isolated with her mother in the backwoods north of Montreal. Now in the city, she questions the silence and deception that shaped her upbringing.
Fara, Maddy, and Rose meet in Montreal’s historic Pointe St-Charles, a rundown neighbourhood on the cusp of gentrification. Against a backdrop of abandonment, loss, and revitalization, the women must confront troubling secrets in order to rebuild their lives.Zorn deftly interweaves the rich yet fragile lives of three very different people into a story of strength and friendship.
Alice Zorn is the author of Arrhythmia and a book of short fiction, Ruins & Relics, which was a finalist for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation First Book Prize. She has twice placed first in Prairie Fire’s Fiction Contest. She lives in Montreal.
A great read that offered a look into how certain events, traumatic experiences, tragedies, shape our identity.
I felt that this love letter to this particular part of Montreal only added to the story, as I become invested in the neighbourhood as much as in the characters.
With Five Roses, Zorn’s handiwork is delicate and hard-wearing, textured and striking. An oh-so-lovely novel you can sink right into.
Five Roses was a very good read.
Zorn soulfully articulates the pain of her characters, but also their remarkable resiliency and resourcefulness.
Zorn’s linguistic skills are well evidenced; she can sketch a situation with a few deft phrases.
You know an author has done her job when you close the book and for a while you continue to wonder what the characters are getting up to.
A great choice for character-driven readers who appreciate a well-developed setting.
A gentle, beautiful book, Five Roses shows how unexpected spaces may make room for reconnection, even love.
In Zorn’s hands, Montreal is a living, breathing city, one that exists off the page.
Disparate narratives woven together in a way that sparks magic.
Alice Zorn is a writer of incredible sensitivity and precision, and this haunting, tender novel is her finest work yet. Five Roses weaves together the delicate dance of friendship, the intensity of love, and the aftermath of loss in a story as vivid and remarkable as life itself. Its people and places will linger with you long after you have put it down.
Alice Zorn’s new novel Five Roses weaves incantatory magic. The warp of this novel is Zorn’s elegant prose style and the weft is her compassionate attention to the colourful interior lives of her characters as they untangle various losses. Five Roses is an arresting artwork, a compulsive read, and a moving, complex, meditation on what it is to form a good-enough life from the remnants of hard memories. A beautiful, beautiful book.
The overall effect is like that of a well-arranged piece of chamber music where a set of exquisitely wrought individual parts gradually entwines into a deeply satisfying whole.
Through Zorn’s vivid writing, one can taste the pastries and hear, see, and smell the neighbourhood even while observing the growth in the lives of these ordinary yet remarkable women.
Part cross-generational lost-child saga, part haunted house tale, part Armistead Mapuin-style urban kaleidoscope novel and, in its own way, a tribute to a Montreal neighbourhood.
What a fantastic read.
The real sweetness of Five Roses lies beneath physical details, in the glimpses she offers of human hearts.