Elizabeth and After
5 journalers for this copy...
The Elizabeth in the title refers to Elizabeth McKelvey, wife of William McKelvey and mother of Carl McKelvey, late of West Gull, Ontario. Elizabeth died early New Year's Day 1987 when her son fell asleep at the wheel of their car and crashed it into a tree. They had all been at the Richardson house for the last New Year's Eve party before the house was turned into a retirement home. Everyone had too much to drink as always happened at the Richardson party. The book opens with a scene from Elizabeth's funeral. Dr. Albert Knight's eulogy compared Elizabeth to a dazzling shooting star. So, from the very beginning, we have an image of Elizabeth that is other-worldly.
But, perhaps that isn't the right take on Elizabeth. As the book goes on to show, Elizabeth could be earthy and sexy. Her life (and death) impacted a number of people in West Gull. Her death especially transformed her son. Carl impregnated and then married Chrissie, a girl he got into a fight over at the New Year's Eve party. While neither Carl nor Chrissie regretted having Lizzie they could not live together. Chrissie threw Carl out and soon after her former boyfriend, Fred, moved in. Carl and Fred got into another fight and Carl ended up in jail. At the beginning of the book Carl is driving back to West Gull from Vancouver Island where he had been working when Chrissie phoned him to ask him to come home for Lizzie's sake. Is Carl also hoping to get back together with Chrissie? Perhaps but at the very least he wants to be a good dad.
His own father is living in the retirement home having agreed to sell the family farm to Luke Richardson in a weak moment. There's a great scene where he goes down to Luke's car dealership and steals a car to drive it into Dead Swede Lake behind his old farmstead. William McKelvey is no prince. Even before Elizabeth's death he drank too much and preferred hunting and fishing to farming. After her death he really fell to pieces.
And then there's Adam Goldsmith, the town bachelor, who fell in love with Elizabeth the first moment he heard her voice. He kept telling himself that Elizabeth was married to someone else and he dated the doctor's daughter, planning on proposing to her when he got sidetracked by Elizabeth seducing him at a New Year's Eve party. Perhaps his life was impacted the most when Elizabeth died.
This book was Cohen's last. He died of lung cancer shortly after receiving the GG award. According to this entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia Cohen knew he was dying and kept on writing. That fact, which I didn't learn until I had finished reading the book, gives an extra dimension to the novel. Cohen may have hoped that his work would have a lasting impact. Certainly his work to establish a Public Lending Right in Canada (which compensates authors for potential loss of sales due to their works being available in libraries) is something that will make his name live on in writing circles. Not being a writer, I think this novel, with its theme of the connections between people, is what will make him memorable for me.
There are some loose pages in this copy. I'm hoping I can fix it up and then I will release it at some time in the future.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
It is waiting there for a new reader to take home, read, and release back into the wild!
Winnipeg bookcrossers meet at my location on the second Wednesday of every month at 7pm to chat about books, swap great reads, and release on the OBCZ shelves. Please join us! We love to see new faces! You will enjoy the comfy atmosphere, the fabulous coffees and teas, and the yummy treats!
Well, I couldn't find my copy of the book at home and there's a very good reason for it. I've already read and released it and darned if it isn't having a grand adventure of its own!
Here's what my book's been up to!
So I'll be releasing this one during the Canada Day challenge and hope that it will travel too!