Nelson author Anne DeGrace’s book reviewed

Nelson author Anne DeGrace's book Flying with Amelia reviewed by vurb contributor Eli Geddis.

Eli Geddes' reviews Nelson author Anne DeGrace's book Flying with Amelia.

Being quite new to Nelson, I assume it’s a little unfair that I made local author Anne DeGrace’s fifth novel, Flying with Amelia, my introduction to Kootenay literature. I say this because it’s setting the bar perilously high for me.

Flying with Amelia is a fantastic little book about one of the biggest things on Earth seen through the eyes of some of its most modest inhabitants. It has no main character, no linear story arc, no single climax, no grand villain. Instead of a main character, DeGrace gives us Canada and all its beauties, struggles, inconsistencies, and stories. Instead of watching a character grow and change, we witness the evolution of a country.

But this isn’t your textbook history of Canada. Anne DeGrace is a librarian, and it shows. She knows that the real heart of a place isn’t in its grand news headlines, but in individual struggles and stories of the people living there. Sure, we get reference to the FLQ October Crisis, but it seems like a needless distraction from the much more important narrative of a group of girls growing up in Ottawa. We experience the 1930s labour disputes, but through the burgeoning love-letters between Peg, a young woman in Nova Scotia, and Martin, an unemployed school-teacher from Saskatchewan.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is that every chapter is an experiment in form and structure. Some take on the air of the magical, with long-dead figures revisiting the world of the living to discuss century-old questions . Some stories are juggled by multiple narrators, some more reliable than others.

Flying with Amelia loosely follows the branches of two family trees that weave around each other. DeGrace uses these threads as a way to paint a picture of the larger forest, of Canada. This country is a big mess of people, stories and memories, and (if we’re going to continue this tree/forest metaphor) DeGrace has done a tremendous job at finding the buds of stories and letting them bloom.

And well, the bar is set.

Eli Geddis is a writer and educator whose first novel is awaiting a publisher and whose second novel will be written this weekend as part of the 3-Day Novel Contest.

 

Just Posted

Nelson Hydro ordered to reimburse rural customers

The B.C. Utilities Commission says a repayment of $19,222 must be made by Dec. 31

Archie in Nelsondale hits the stage Nov. 28 with inter-generational cast

Nelson’s annual Christmas Pantomime features ‘one-liners, familiar songs, and general silliness’

Former Esso site on Nelson Avenue to be sold

Imperial Oil says remediation work is underway

Nelson police remove impaired drivers during weekend blitz

Seven people lost their licences and had their cars impounded

Leo Grypma advances to next round of CrossFit Games qualifying

The Power By You coach finished 62nd out of 26,000 people in his age division at the Open

VIDEO: Marking Métis Week with a wild meat lunch

Nelson students were served food as part of an event centred on Métis culture

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Little progress in preventing sudden infant deaths since last report: BC Coroner

Coroners panel studied 141 sleep-related sudden infant deaths between 2013 and 2018

Most Read