Presented to the Calgary Women’s Literary Club
By Janet Samber
October 10, 2023
Katherine Govier, a deservedly well-respected Canadian author, has published 10 novels, 3 volumes of short stories, 2 anthologies, and a book of nursery rhymes. Her mastery of research is evident in her 3 epic historical novels, which transport the reader into a rich, complex environment which brings history alive. Govier is a writer with a wonderful, often poetic vocabulary which enables the reader to visualize characters, the sense of place, and mood. Her novel Creation, which tells the story of James J Audubon’s 1833 trip up the Labrador coast, and of his meeting with British Navy Captain Henry Wolsey Bayfield is a case in point, as Govier’s research into the journals of Bayfield has resulted in bringing the two very different men to life for the reader, and also resulted in Creation being named a book of the year by the New York Times. Govier’s two historical novels dealing with Japan also enchant: They bring to life through intimate detail, a long-lost past. Govier also has written stories and novels set in the present time, again wonderful writing and characterization, but some were not, for me, of the calibre of the historical novels as I found that they contained too many sub plots and secondary characters. The sweeping saga told in The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel is an example of a book that might have been improved with fewer sub plots. However, like her other works, it is a fascinating book, the writing lyrical, the characters interesting, and the sense of place beautifully presented. Katherine Govier’s works are well worth exploring.