Inspired by Landscape

Photo by S. Mattison

On March 21, 2023 member Helle K. presented on Canadian author Mary Lawson. Helle has been a member of the CWLC since 2010, when she was introduced to the club by member Ritta V. She discovered the works of Lawson through our program theme and fell in love with the way the author writes, reading some of her books twice.

Mary Lawson uses the isolation of small town Northern Ontario to create tensions and interactions between characters that would not occur in the big city. While the author has lived in London (UK) for many years, she draws inspiration from the landscape of her youth, setting her novels in the 1960’s and 70’s. Helle read a passage from Crow Lake, which described the setting of the story, which for Helle evoked memories of the northern Canada town where her own father worked.

After writing the very successful Crow Lake at the age of 55, Ms. Lawson wrote 2 additional books in the same setting, using some of the same characters. While not billed as such, Helle sees these first three books as a trilogy. The Other Side of the Bridge and Road Ends are page turners that highlight family dynamics and how people move forward from life’s tragedies. The plots come together as a result of how characters develop. Helle found that Road Ends is an apt title for the last of these three books, as this expression can mean the end of a journey, the end of a story, or the end of a life.

Helle next read from A Town Called Solace, the author’s fourth book. The books plot was inspired by a glimpse of 4 boxes through a window. The novel shows how three characters come together, and shows the reader what’s in the packing boxes.

While no one knows what the future holds, Helle hopes that more works are forthcoming from Ms. Lawson, perhaps even a novel set in London.

Shawna M.

Next week, we welcome guest speaker Dr. Robert Boschman. Dr. Boschman currently chairs the department of English, Languages, and Cultures at Mount Royal University. Along with essay anthologies, he has published a book entitled White Coal City: A Memoir of Place and Family (2021).

At this meeting we welcomed a new member. We love to meet new people who enjoy literature. Will you be the next new member?

Click here to learn more

“A Writer Creates Their Own World…”

Photo by Jack Anstey on Unsplash

On November 8, 2022 member Robin S. invited members into the many worlds created by Emily St. John Mandel. Ms. Mandel is the author of the novels Last Night in Montreal (2009), The Singer’s Gun (2010), The Lola Quartet (2012), Station Eleven (2014), The Glass Hotel (2020), and The Sea of Tranquility (2022). Station Eleven was the 2015 winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best Science Fiction published in the United Kingdom.

Mandel had a unique path to authorship. She grew up in British Columbia, lastly in an island community, leaving to study dance without completing her high school diploma. She became a travelling dancer, then a dancer who writes, then a writer who dances and finally a successful writer. While her island upbringing is reflected in her work, she loves urban life in cities such as Montreal, Toronto and New York City.

Her latest novels are difficult to put in a box: mixing noir mystery, the supernatural and science fiction. Station Eleven solidified Mandel as a genre writer. The book is post-apocalyptic science fiction, exploring celebrity culture, and the importance of art in society even when things fall apart. Robin found this to be a hopeful book (her advice however is don’t read it on a plane trip!).

The author falls in love with her characters, and uses them again. Characters introduced in Station Eleven reappear in The Glass Hotel and The Sea of Tranquility. This most recent book is speculative fiction about time travel and the time traveller’s dilemma: “If you could change history, would you? should you?”.

Robin finds that Emily St. John Mandel’s work is getting better with each book. Since I have no air travel coming up, I plan to try out Station Eleven.

Shawna M.

Next Tuesday, member Anne Marie D. will discuss the works of Thomas King via Zoom.

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“I Feel a Tug…”

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

On March 10th, member Janet H. shared the work of Michael Crummey, with emphasis on his historical novels. She used the phrase “I feel a tug” to describe the longing we get to know the emotional and practical lives of those who came before us. Many of us are thus drawn to historical fiction- stories that make our sense of place come alive.

Michael Crummey is a Canadian poet and historical fiction author whose work brings to life the unique culture and history of Newfoundland and Labrador. Janet read from his early book, The River Thieves which looks at cultural loss as European fisherman and colonists encounter the last of the Indigenous Beothuk. Life in early Newfoundland is shown as an unequal struggle over minimal resources in a harsh land.

Next, Janet read from The Innocents, a story of two children who are orphaned and take on the adult world of subsistence fishing and agriculture in a remote settlement. The reading illustrated how even the harshest of circumstances can be faced with determination, love and occasionally humour.

Finally, Janet discussed Galore, Mr. Crummey’s novel using magical realism to blend NFL folklore and history. Janet recommends the following link to hear Mr. Crummey discuss Galore in person:

I have yet to read the work of Michael Crummey, but Janet’s presentation has put him on my must read list.

To see the beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador, Janet presented this link:

Shawna M.

Next week, the work of Amor Towles will be presented. Interested in joining us? Click here:

Is Helen Humphreys on your reading list?



Image result for The Frozen Thames images

(Photo circa 1900. Source: Getty Images. )

Regrettably, I missed Betty Sherwood’s presentation last October. However, I have access to the next best thing and you do too.

You’ll be seeking this author’s books also, once you read Betty’s engaging presentation on Helen Humphreys. “The Frozen Thames” is on my list!

Read Betty’s Summary on Helen Humphreys here.