Summer has finally arrived and that means many of us will be heading out on vacation in the next few weeks. If you’re like me, you love to bring a good book with you on vacation, whether you’re going to read on a plane or on a hammock next to the lake! I’ll be heading to a cottage in July and August and I always love reading Canadian fiction books when I’m up north. Here are some exciting new fiction books for summer 2023 that you’ll want to pack in your suitcase:
If you love to read like I do, you’ll definitely want to ensure that you have a good novel packed for the cottage. Elizabeth Hay is one of my favourite Canadian fiction authors. I absolutely loved Late Nights on Air, which won The Giller Prize and I also enjoyed her later book, His Whole Life. Snow Road Station is a continuation of His Whole Life, but it is not necessary to read the latter book to enjoy the former. In Snow Road Station, Lulu, an actor in her 60s, escapes to the lake at Snow Road Station (about an hour and a half north of Kingston, Ontario) after messing up her lines in a play. There, she reconnects with her long-time friend Nan, and meets others who help her reconnect with her true self. Hay takes the time to create round characters who think and act in complex ways. She also creates a community, with vivid descriptions of the local people and landscape in beautifully written prose and graciously allows her reader access to that community. Perhaps that’s why her books are so hard to finish: because you don’t want to say goodbye to her characters!
Snow Road Station by Elizabeth Hay is published by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada, $32.95. ISBN No. 978-1-03-900332-3
A charming new novel from Amy Jones about family ties and the endearing bonds of humans and animals. Lauren, who has just learned her globe-trotting photographer mother, Imogen Starr, has died while living at a trailer park in Florida, receives a text from her husband asking her for a divorce. On top of that, Lauren’s daughter Dove has just been kicked out of school. Dove and Lauren head down to Florida to escape their challenges, meet a cast of character’s at her mother’s mobile home park and bond with a manatee named Pebble at an aquarium that is about to be closed. Jones beautifully and often humorously explores the challenges of the mother-daughter relationship and how it can ebb and flow throughout a lifetime, as well as the healing qualities of animals.
Pebble and Dove by Amy Jones is published by McClelland & Stewart. ISBN No. 978-0-7710-9931-1, $24.95
The latest novel from Cherie Dimaline is the perfect summer read that allows you entry into the spirit world. Although marketed as a Young Adult read, the book can be enjoyed by young and older adults alike! Sixteen-year-old Winifred lives at fictional-Toronto-cemetery Winterson with her dad, who operates the crematorium. Winifred’s mother died years ago while giving her birth, yet both Winifred and her father are still dealing with their grief. Fascinated by ghosts, Winnifred enjoys hanging out and pretending to be a ghost in the graveyard with her long-time friend Jack, upon whom she has a crush. Unfortunately, the cemetery (located next to Cabaggetown’s Necropolis Cemetery) is on the verge of bankruptcy, jeopardizing her father’s employment. When Winifred is spotted wearing a white gown while flitting among the headstones, rumours swirl about the cemetery being haunted and surprise (!), a real ghost turns up! Dimaline’s writing is beautiful, concise and completely captures the fleeting and sizeable emotions of the teenage experience and what it means to love and be loved. I enjoy a good ghost story and this one from Dimaline is no exception.
Funeral Songs for Dying Girls by Cherie Dimaline is published by Tundra Books, a division of Penguin Random House Canada, $23.99. ISBN No.: 978-0-7352-6563-9
I read Amy Stuart’s previous novel Still Water and really enjoyed the story which followed Clare to High River, Alberta as she searched for a missing mother and son. Her latest novel opens with Nadine hosting a 60th-birthday dinner party for her writer-mother Marilyn when she finds a guest murdered in her basement. The reader is not told until the end the identity of the victim, which of course adds to the suspense. The story winds backwards over the previous 24 hours to reveal family conflict and a past tragedy that has haunting effects into the present. This thriller starts off slow but picks up speed towards the middle. An easy page-turner for those languid summer days in the hammock or on the dock.
A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart is published by Simon and Schuster, $24.99. ISBN No. 978-1-6680-0910-9.
The latest book by Booker-Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton starts off by introducing Mira, the leader of a renegade New Zealand farming collective that grow vegetables on abandoned properties. A landslide has isolated the town of Thorndike and left a plot of undeveloped land, which Mira has her eyes on. Unfortunately, she isn’t the only one with plans for the land, which possesses valuable rare earth minerals used for renewable energy technology. Tech billionaire Robert Lemoine plans to build a bunker on the coveted land to escape the end of the world. The first 70 pages are spent on character development as there isn’t a lot of action taking place, but stick it out as the pace increases after that. The story becomes one that you won’t want to put down. The setting of New Zealand intrigued me, having never been to that rugged island country; what was also fascinating was a peek into Lemoine’s rich-and-famous lifestyle. This is a small point, but I do wish Catton had subdivided her 100-page chapters into smaller chapters. It just makes it easier to read for us Type As who like to feel they’ve accomplished something by finishing a chapter or two and that’s impossible when the chapters are 100 pages long.
Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton is published by McClelland & Stewart, $36.95. ISBN No. 978-0-7710-2437-5
I hope you enjoyed learning about these new books for summer 2023. You may be interested in reading, “Beloved King West Restaurant Myth Reopens with a New Menu“.