Then it made the long list for the Giller Prize last year, and ended up winning the Governor General's prize. Now I don't always like the GG winner (there have been some odd choices made in the past), but I loved this book.
It has an unusual structure. The whole book takes place over a 24 hour period in small town Saskatchewan. There are 5 different stories being told - different characters and family groups - as they move through the day. But rather than being told one after another, they are woven together over time so that the reader is able to follow what is happening in each story as the day progresses. Each chapter covers a period of time, and is broken into several parts according to the different stories being told.
As I said earlier, I loved this book! The characters, while not all likable, were so well drawn and real. They could be real people in just about any small town in Canada. And the setting was so vividly drawn that while I was reading the book, I was there in the hot, dry, southern Saskatchewan summer rather than in snowy northern Ontario in March. And the stories were so engrossing that I couldn't put the book down. Yes, I sprained my ankle badly on Saturday morning so wasn't moving far from my sofa anyways; but I really couldn't put the book down and the sprained ankle just gave me an excuse to keep reading!
Have you ever had the experience of a book being inexorably linked with a place? I know that when I had an opportunity to walk in the Sahara desert, I couldn't stop thinking about The English Patient; walking through the UofT campus screams Robertson Davies at me; and driving through the Muskokas always brings Valancy and The Blue Castle to mind. This book has left such a strong impression on me that I am sure to think of it, and it's characters, if I ever drive through southern Saskatchewan in the heat of summer.