I recently discovered Connie Gault’s writing when I won a copy of A Beauty through a Goodreads Giveaway. Dave Margoshes, previously featured twice on Reading Recommendations, is a fellow-Saskatchewanian who has known Connie for many years and recommends her writing.
by Connie Gault
novel, literary fiction
In a drought-ridden Saskatchewan of the 1930s, self-possessed, enigmatic Elena Huhtala finds herself living alone, a young Finnish woman in a community of Swedes in the small village of Trevna. Her mother has been dead for many years, and her father, burdened by the hardships of drought, has disappeared, and the eighteen-year-old is an object of pity and charity in her community. But when a stranger shows up at a country dance, Elena needs only one look and one dance before jumping into his Lincoln Roadster, leaving the town and its shocked inhabitants behind. What follows is a trip through the prairie towns, their dusty streets, shabby hotel rooms, surrounded by dry fields that stretch out vastly, waiting for rain. Elena’s journey uncovers the individual stories of an unforgettable group of people, all of whom are in one way or another affected by her seductive yet innocent presence. At the centre is Ruth, a girl whose life becomes changed in unexpected ways. She and the girl Elena, distanced and apart, form a strange bond that will come to haunt the decades for them both.
Connie’s bio: Connie Gault is the author of two collections of short stories, several plays for stage and radio and the novel Euphoria, winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction and short-listed for the High Plains Fiction Award and the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book of Canada and the Caribbean.
A former prose editor of Grain Magazine, Gault has also edited books of fiction, taught many creative writing classes, and mentored emerging writers through the Saskatchewan Writers Guild Mentorship Program. She lives in Regina.
Why Dave Margoshes recommends Connie Gault’s writing:
Set against the iconic Canadian literary image of Saskatchewan – drought and Depression-strangled – Gault’s new novel is a “road story” involving a seductive yet innocent young woman and – what else? – a mysterious stranger.
I know Connie and I know and admire her work (her last novel, Euphoria, was wonderful), so a new book from her is always much anticipated. This novel, while still in manuscript form, won the City of Regina Writing Award a few years ago. Here’s what the jury had to say about it: “What really set this apart, though, is the combination of the familiar and expected—a stranger comes to town—with a jolt of the strange. It’s like electricity in the air before a storm. The reader falls into this piece and we want more, more.”
And here’s what Commonwealth Prize Winner and Giller Prize Finalist Marina Endicott has to say about it: “A Beauty is a radiant novel, filled with vivid life: startling, clear, and real. Connie Gault’s unadorned, transparent prose and her ruthless but loving intelligence make her one of Canada’s very best writers.”
That’s good enough for me.
Guest reviewer’s latest title or project: Saskatoon-area fiction writer and poet Dave Margoshes had a two-book year in 2014: A novel, Wiseman’s Wager (Coteau Books), and a story collection, God Telling a Joke and Other Stories (Oolichan Books).