I also take home books that are intended only for me. The stories in After the Angel Mill by Carol Bruneau (Cormorant) are about Cape Breton, and the characters come from four generations of one family. Luckily the stories are linked—Bruneau draws such intimate and interesting portraits that it would be a shame to leave everyone behind just because one story ends. We travel from England, 1894 to Nova Scotia, 1983, but mostly we're in the coal-mining town of Blackett, on Cape Breton Island, amid the red brick rowhouses with the slag heap across the road. The main characters are usually women, who cope with poverty and hardship so differently than their men do that ultimately the two sexes are irreconcilable. I read this book like a novel—right through from the first story to the last—and then I read it again in random order. It worked both ways.