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Cottage Books

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The cottage, the cabin, the camp… the name is different, but the place stays the same, every single year.
When Fenelon Falls

When Fenelon Falls

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary

A spaceship hurtles towards the moon, hippies gather at Woodstock, Charles Manson leads a cult into murder and a Kennedy drives off a Chappaquiddick dock: it’s the summer of 1969. And as mankind takes its giant leap, Jordan May March, disabled bastard and genius, age fourteen, limps and schemes her way towards adulthood. Trapped at the March family’s cottage, she spends her days memorizing Top 40 lists, avoiding her adoptive cousins, catching frogs and plottingto save Yogi, the bullied, butt …

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Ladies Lending Library

Ladies Lending Library

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged :

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From one of Canada’s most accomplished novelists, a bittersweet tale about mothers, daughters, friends and lovers in 1960s cottage country.

In the summer of 1963, the year of the release of Cleopatra, the most sensational movie ever made, the women of Kalyna Beach prepare for their annual end-of season party. Sonia Martyn and her four daughters are part of a group of first generation Ukrainian Canadians, newly minted middle-class families claiming their small part of the cot …

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Summer Gone

Summer Gone

edition:Paperback
also available: Audiobook (cassette)
tagged :

The admired, bestselling author of The Danger Tree joins Knopf Canada with his masterful first work of fiction: a haunting novel about love experienced and love remembered that is also an unforgettable celebration and evocation of the brief beauty of a northern summer.

Summer Gone is about that moment when everything stops. Like skilled canoeists, we briefly hold a perfect balance - poised between innocence and experience, life and death, discovery and loss, the promise of spring and the sadness …

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Excerpt

When Dr. Alistair Laird fell suddenly ill early one spring, not long after his seventy-first birthday, his wishes were that no ceremony attend his death. He was a handsome, crag-faced man. He was known as Laird to everyone, including his wife, Nora, and his three stepdaughters, Julia, Pru, and Sarah. He was kindly, in his way. He was also bombastic, in his way. And for someone who was dying, and dying rather quickly, Laird made his exit plans known with some force.

"Perhaps," said the hospital chaplain, who ventured once and only once into Laird's room, "a memorial service, a gathering of family and friends . . ."

Laird moved his dry lips.

"I beg your pardon." The chaplain leaned forward.

A gasp of stale breath. "Get out."

It was Bay who witnessed this. During those unsettled and sad days, it was Bay who was often there, in the hospital room.

Of course, it was Laird's wife who bore the brunt. Nora, whose round, open face had taken on a strained expression no one had seen before. Nora, who always wore the perfume Laird liked, and who always had a kind word for the nurses, and whose substantial weight was beginning to bear down on her tired legs, as she paced the corridor in her comfortable old cardigan when the doctors came into Laird's room. It was Nora, of course, who was in the hospital for long bedside shifts, but when, finally, she was exhausted, when finally she went home, to a bath, to some food, to the blankness of the sleeping pills she was using for the first and only time in her life, she wanted someone to be there. Julia and Pru, and their husbands and young families, lived far from downtown. It was the busiest time of the publishing year for Sarah — three children's novels, two nursery rhyme anthologies, and the usual raft of Learning to Read paperbacks were coming out of Children's Press. And so it was Bay who was sitting in the hospital room, across from the end of Laird's bed, beside the window, when Laird made his wishes so clear to the chaplain.

Bay was a little taken aback — not nearly as taken aback as the chaplain — but not particularly surprised. The views that Laird held on the subject of religion and its attendant ceremony were well known to his family and his friends. And his views on these matters — and on the subject of funerals — had not softened in the least now that he was face to face with the green walls, plasma drips, fish sticks, and plastic pill tumblers of his own mortality.

"Nothing," Laird had said. "I'd like. Nothing."

This was when the subject first came up. Or rather, when it came up for the first unwhispered time. For although Laird, by then, had known for a week what was quickly to come, his family had been floundering from doctor to doctor, hope to hope. As families will.

The family meeting took place in Laird's hospital room. Sarah was sitting at the foot of the narrow bed. Her mother was in a chair at the head. She was holding Laird's hand. Sarah's two younger sisters, and their husbands, were standing by the large, unadorned window. Bay was at the closed door.

Beside Laird's bed were piled a few of the history books he had always enjoyed reading. They were now too heavy for him to hold. Beside the books was the Walkman the family had bought for him in the hospital, and which he said he hated. Tapes of his favourite Schubert, his favourite Beethoven sat there, ignored. "Music," he had said, "must echo around things.To be alive. Can't be injected."

Laird's feet were pale. He complained of how cold they were. Sarah was massaging them. She said, "We can't do . . . nothing."

There was a faint echo of Laird's old, gruff growl. It was a very characteristic growl. The growl his family had heard so often when they were growing up — when they came back from school to report that they were memorizing Psalm 23 for an assembly, or that their teacher liked to start the day with the Lord's Prayer. From his pillows, Laird looked at Sarah fiercely. "Why not?" he asked. "Why not do nothing?" His eyes gleamed for a second with the old fire of the debates he had so often waged at the dinner table. "'Nothing' seems fitting. Under the circumstances."

"Well," she said. "There's Mom."

Nora's eyes were wide and attentive. Her fine skin, her abundant white hair, her long, pretty lashes, her unbearable concern were all poised there. She was on the edge of something. She was unable to speak.

Laird said, "Nora is a big girl." He gave a feeble pat to the back of his wife's hand.

"And there's your friends. And there's us . . ."

"Look." Laird wheezed. He coughed. "I'm the one. Who's bloody well dying."

It was the first time the word had been spoken openly. So matter-of-factly. It hung there, amid the leafy cloy of the delivered flowers, the odour of untouched dinner, the scent of moisturizer cream and soap and disinfectant, the dim smell of bedsheets.

"So what I want," Laird said. "Is. After the cremation. Throw out my ashes. With the garbage."

He had forbidden a funeral, forbidden a memorial service, forbidden his family the expense of anything beyond the most rudimentary disposal. He was a doctor. A stubborn pragmatist. A faithful atheist. A Scot.

Laird frowned. He said, "And I mean. Regular pickup. No goddamn recycling."

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Juliana and the Medicine Fish

Juliana and the Medicine Fish

edition:Paperback
tagged :

While spending the summer trying to deal with her parents' divorce, Juliana, with the help of her Ojibway friend, uncovers an ancient secret that helps her reconcile with her father and, at the same time, acquire a new appreciation for the dangerous beauty of Canada's north country.

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The Last Woman

The Last Woman

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
tagged :

In the heart of cottage country in Ontario, bordering on a native reservation, Ann and Richard are confronted with the abrupt reappearance after ten years of a local man, Billy. His presence once again in their lives brings back powerful memories and rekindles old conflicts, love, and a betrayal, as each of their past and present stories gradually unfolds during one 1980s summer. Containing all of the elements for which The Island Walkers was celebrated, The Last Woman envelops us in Bemrose’s …

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Excerpt

The sun suffers through a cloudless sky. Week after week, it pulses from shoreline rock, floods the lake with glare. New reefs have surfaced – sullen herds strewing the channels – while in remote bays, floating carpets of lily and arrowhead have given way to flats of dried mud. To some cottagers, the drought seems proof of dire change – some critical shift in the climate, discussed over drinks or at the gas pumps in Carton Harbour, with that secret frisson of anticipation that so often accompanies rumours of catastrophe. But others tell stories of summers just as dry – a reassuring thought, finally, for no one wants life on the lake to change. Lake Nigushi is a place where people come to escape change, to enjoy the kind of summers they and their parents knew in their youth. The plunge from the raft. The Monopoly board or mystery novel on somnolent afternoons . . .  She stands at the window with the receiver pressed to her ear: a woman in cut- offs and a sleeveless blouse, hair mussed from dozing on the couch in the dim room behind her, where the ringing of the phone made its way into her dream. She had been swimming underwater with a book in her hand, and then she flew up, lifted by a crane, cables screeching. And now she is at the window, staring into the fierce daylight with scarcely any sense of how she has got here. Beyond the screen, smooth, fissured rock pours away from the cottage toward the water. On the next island, pines stand in monumental stillness, their long, upswept branches pointing into a brilliant sky. The light has transfixed everything: a piece of driftwood, an empty deck chair, a little colony of dry grasses, all motionless in the heat. It seems to her that nothing can move, will ever move again, the afternoon caught in the paralysis of a spell.

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Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever

The Best New Canadian Non-Fiction
edited by Moira Farr & Ian Pearson
introduction by Marni Jackson
edition:Paperback

In honour of the twentieth anniversary of the Literary Journalism Program at the Banff Centre, Cabin Fever celebrates two decades of writing with thirteen of the finest creative non-fiction pieces written by program participants.

Drawn primarily from the program’s second decade, this anthology includes essays on a strikingly original and global range of topics by some of the best non-fiction writers in the country: Tara Grescoe goes in search of "pure" absinthe; Jeff Warren examines the way wh …

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Go Home Lake

Go Home Lake

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

In the late 1960s Penny is the youngest of four kids, known on her street as the girl with the mean brothers. She spends all year looking forward to her summers spent at Go Home Lake, where she passes the days in a soaked bathing suit, catching frogs, and getting her daily fill of fresh air.

Yet Penny's summers are far from pleasant. Her father’s weekend visits to the cottage are sporadic, and her brothers prey on her innocence in every way, while her mother offers little sympathy. But Penny ho …

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