From one of the most distinctive voices in Canadian fiction, comes a major new novel imbued with Barfoot's signature theme - that of an ordinary woman deflected from the course of her life by an extraordinary event. Gwen Stone thought her life had taken an abrupt nose-dive when Edgar, her husband of twenty years, suddenly decided he wasn't suited to marriage and left her, for freedom and a shiny red convertible. Edgar's freedom, however has been short-lived - and so has he. Seven weeks later, he and his convertible have been mowed down by a train, and Gwen is attending his funeral, swinging between caustic rage, despair and an unfamiliar sense of possibility. "So, 'For the last time, Edgar, good-bye,' Gwen says in a clear, impatient, exasperated voice. She gives the casket an encouraging pat, straightens and marches briskly out of the room, past everyone gaping, through one set of doors, and down a hallway to a heavy set of wooden doors, out into the parking lot and sunshine...... She's had enough. More than enough. She spreads her arms and lets loose a whoop into the shining, hot sky." From Edgar's funeral Gwen moves on to her new life, and a few hours' solace in the arms of David, a friendly young bartender. David has his own troubles, and the brief encounter between the newly widowed Gwen, and the misunderstood (in his opinion) David, unexpectedly alters both of their destinies. "He could do that. He could take an hour and go for a walk in the sunshine. He could watch carefully for the elusive signal, wait for it, act on it. He could give himself one more outing. This may be how an alcoholic feels: just one more treat. What harm could it do, how much difference could it make? He deserves some recompense, a reward, doesn't he? For being so good, for so long? He could walk right now across this barren floor and out that door, into the light and air." Gwen and David's alternating stories, both humorous and surprising, have wonderfully satisfying resolutions.
About the author
Joan Barfoot is one of the most engaging, entertaining, and original voices in contemporary fiction; her eleven novels capture the lives of people as they lived in the last twenty years of the 20th century and the first twenty years of the 21st. Readable and sophisticated, her work has been frequently compared to Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, Carol Shields, Alice Munro, Margaret Drabble, and Fay Weldon. Her novels have been nominated for, or won, numerous prizes, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Books in Canada (now Amazon.ca) First Novel Award, and the Man Booker Prize, and they have been translated into French, German, Italian, Swedish, and Danish. She is also the recipient of the Marian Engel Award. Her novel, Dancing in the Dark, was adapted to an award-winning feature film by the same name and it was entered into competition at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival. At the peak of her powers, Joan Barfoot’s books are splendidly realized tragicomedies with note-perfect narration, mordant wit, and wonderfully neurotic casts of characters; she shows us human relationships revealed in all their absurdity and complexity. The body of her work can best be described as scintillating comedies of manners which are also profound meditations on fate, love, and artifice.