Reviews

Into the Heart of the Landscape

Michael Hayward

The young protagonist of Theresa Kishkan’s novella, The Weight of the Heart (Palimpsest Press), is Isabel (or Izzy), a graduate student of literature writing her thesis on the works of Ethel Wilson and Sheila Watson, two authors whose groundbreaking novels, published during the 1950s, were set, in part, in the distinctive landscapes of BC’s interior. Izzy is mourning the recent loss of her brother James, drowned while kayaking the Fraser River near Lytton. As Izzy grieves, “[carrying] sorrow down the trail like a broken bird,” she prepares to travel alone up the Fraser Canyon, hoping to map specific sites that had inspired Wilson and Watson. Later, for example, she will wonder whether a roadside pine “might have been one of the trees Maggie Lloyd [a character in Ethel Wilson’s Swamp Angel] saw as she drove towards her cherished life at Three Loon Lake, away from the bitterness of her second husband, the odious Edward Vardoe.” In a sense Kishkan the author is also, here, Kishkan the reader, engaged in an ongoing conversation with the authors—and the books—which have long occupied her own heart. The Weight of the Heart is a gem of a book, which, as soon as I was done, inspired me to reread Swamp Angel, set in 1950s Vancouver and in the sage and pine-scented hills around Kamloops. Absorbed in its pages, I could (provided I stayed in the background, and didn’t interrupt) hang out once again with the unforgettable and independent Mrs. Severance, former circus juggler (now widowed and retired), and admire the inner strength of the quieter, though equally intrepid, Maggie Lloyd.

Tags
No items found.

SUGGESTIONS FOR YOU

Reviews
Michael Hayward

Vanishing Career Paths

Review of "The Last Bookseller: A Life in the Rare Book Trade" by Gary Goodman, and "A Factotum in the Book Trade" by Marius Kociejowski.

Reviews
Anson Ching

Further Years of Solitude

Review of "Black Sugar" by Miguel Bonnefoy.

Reviews
Peggy Thompson

What It Means To Be Human

Review of "All the Broken Things" by Geoff Inverarity.