Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction General

Innocent Cities

by (author) Jack Hodgins

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Sep 2000
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2000
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Set in Victoria, B.C., in 1881, Innocent Cities brilliantly weaves together the lives and lies of an entire community. Logan Sumner is a young widower and architect who dreams of transforming the tiny port city of Victoria into one of the great cities of the world. When he’s not chiseling a record of his life onto his tombstone, Sumner awkwardly courts the daughter of James Horncastle, an inveterate gambler and the swaggering proprietor of The Great Blue Heron Hotel. Their lives – and those of the bizarre group of guests who frequent the hotel – are changed forever when a mysterious widow from Australia arrives in Victoria with startling revelations from her past. Rich with intrigue, warm humour, and a memorable cast of characters, Innocent Cities is a compelling tale from one of Canada’s finest writers.

About the author

Jack Hodgins was raised in Merville, on Vancouver Island, and graduated from the University of British Columbia. Until recently, he taught fiction writing at the University of Victoria. His novels and story collections include: Spit Delaney’s Island, The Invention of the World, Innocent Cities, Broken Ground, Distance, and Damage Done by the Storm. In the spring of 2010, he published his newest novel, The Master of Happy Endings (Thomas Allen). A Passion for Narrative (a guide to writing fiction) is used in classrooms and writing groups across Canada and Australia. Hodgins’ fiction has won the Governor General’s Award, the Canada-Australia Prize, the Commonwealth Prize (Canada and the Caribbean) and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, amongst others. He has given readings, talks, and workshops in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and several European countries, and has taught an annual fiction workshop in Mallorca, Spain. In 2006 he received both the Terasen Lifetime Achievement Award and the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence in British Columbia. In 2009 the Governor General appointed him a Member of the Order of Canada. He and his wife Dianne have three grown children and three grandchildren. Jack Hodgins’ website is

Jack Hodgins' profile page

Editorial Reviews

“A perfect tragicomedy, slipping and sliding from raucous laughter to bitter sadness and back again. Hodgins has once again set himself the task of inventing a world in all its rich contradictions of desire fulfilled and lost; and he has succeeded brilliantly.”
Edmonton Journal

“Complex, intelligent, and artfully constructed…”
Books in Canada

“A freewheeling story of love and ambition.…”
Toronto Star

“Hodgins writes with infectious charm and boyish enthusiasm for eccentric and larger-than-life characters.…[He] is a writer of boundless energy and talent.…”
Ottawa Citizen

“Readers who enjoy Hodgins’ free play with reality, his ability to see the magical in the everyday, to take the surreal easily in his stride, will find much to beguile them…[Innocent Cities is] an elaborate and entirely welcome monument to the genius of its creator.”
– Montreal Gazette

“[Innocent Cities] has the masterful touch of a writer who knows his setting intimately.…Hodgins’s greatest talent lies in his ability to create memorable portrayals of vivid, sometimes disturbing, individuals.…His examination of the crippling effects of hatred and hypocrisy is at times stunning.…Innocent Cities digs deep into the human character, seeking out the hidden, often nasty, baggage that people carry with them.”
“It’s a luxuriously written book, full of Hodgins’s wit, quiet wisdom and graceful turns of phrase.”
– Halifax Daily News

“Jack Hodgins tells a rattling good tale.…One cannot but be delighted by the romping of such a fertile imagination, and cannot help but participate in the evident delight of this storyteller in the miracle of words as they shape…a most entertaining narrative.”
Globe and Mail

Innocent Cities is both humorous and enchanting, with its cast of oddball characters.”
–Saskatoon StarPhoenix

“[Hodgins’s characters] are as remarkably distinct and memorable as one’s own friends and relatives.…Jack Hodgins has sung into existence a world that is at once as real as the Inner Harbour and as magical as the antipodean wilderness.”
Monday Magazine (Victoria)

Innocent Cities is just the kind of enjoyable, funny and endearing novel one has come to expect from Jack Hodgins.…A rollicking read.”
Nanaimo Weekend

Other titles by Jack Hodgins