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Fiction Literary

The Players

by (author) Margaret Sweatman

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2011
    List Price

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Nominated, 2010 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award and Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction

Two French explorers arrive in Court to charm two ships from the English King. The rest, as they say, is history...' Or perhaps not. Set in the libertine era of Restoration England, The Players embarks on a voyage of discovery with compelling characters, a magical plot, and stunning imagery.

A tale of beginnings and of invention, this remarkable novel takes on the 17th century with a contemporary sensibility. Here, the ability to perform — in Court, on stage, in private quarters, and in the brutal cold of James Bay — might save your life... and Lilly Cole must play along with the best of them.

Sly, provocative, and ingeniously funny, Sweatman's prose explores the deep well of human motivation, how instinct trumps reason when survival is in question.

About the author

Margaret Sweatman is a novelist, playwright, and singer-lyricist. She is the author of four previously published novels, Fox, Sam & Angie, When Alice Lay Down With Peter, and The Players, for which she has won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Award, and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.

Sweatman's plays have been produced by Prairie Theatre Exchange, Popular Theatre Alliance, and the Guelph Spring Festival. She has performed with her own Broken Songs Band and with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, and the National Academy Orchestra. With her husband, composer Glenn Buhr, Sweatman won a 2006 Genie Award for Best Song in Canadian Film.

Margaret Sweatman's profile page


  • Nominated, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction
  • Nominated, McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award

Editorial Reviews

"If it is true that 'a storyteller carries his house on his back,' Sweatman must sport a spectacular dowager's hump. The Players is a story of survival, laced with political, physical and spiritual dangers. By the time the cast of characters look for their exits, we need no further convincing of Sweatman's talent as a wordsmith."


"Richly set in Restoration England and Canada's then virtually unknown northern wilds, this is a wonderfully humourous tale filled with playful language."

<i>The Sun Times</i>

"Women and their interior lives are Sweatman's territory and she treats these familiar subjects with depth, beauty and tenderness."

>i>Prairie Fire Review of Books</i>

"The tale of a young woman, determined, scrappy, hungry. And with its tantalizing ending, the totemic publishing word trilogy comes to mind. Sweatman seems to reach for more than just a good story. She wants to explore the power gap between men and women, the clash of cultures, the greed and curiosity behind the business venture that led to the Hudson Bay Company. The result is a detailed, sometimes effusive telling of the tale of a young woman, determined, scrappy, hungry. And with its tantalizing ending, the totemic publishing word trilogy comes to mind."

<i>Winnipeg Free Press</i>

"Sweatman provides many moments of poetically rendered insights in the novel. Readers will glean from The Players the kind of fraught satisfaction that defines memorably fine fiction."

<i>Event Magazine</i>

"Sweatman often ficionalizes Manitoban and Canadian history in her novels. With The Players, she widens her focus. The result is a rollicking ride, with intrigue, comedy and strong characters. It's delicious."

<i>Uptown Magazine</i>

"Beautifully crafted, carefully researched."

<i>Calgary Beacon</i>

"The Players tells the artful, awful truth about Canadian history. In getting to this truth, it uncovers history as a haunting of all of our stories."

<i>Malahat Review</i>

"Sweatman does not shrink from presenting the times in all their brazen glory. She writes erotic with the best. Bursting with good humour and refreshing in its willful ignorance of political correctness, Sweatman's writing flows as smoothly as a muscular northern river, with a stunning control of voice. She keeps the reader engaged every moment, introducing us to a company of intriguing characters, and makes good use of fastidious detail."

<i>The Globe and Mail</i>

"An eloquent and suspenceful work that captures the realities of three different worlds, showing us the glimpses of the world in transition — the unstable motherland, the liminal space of the voyage, and the unforging wilderness — and the adaptability of humans that survive them."

<i>Maple Tree Literary Supplement</i>

"A florid and engaging read."


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