Remembrance Day Reads

Commemorate Remembrance Day with these fiction and nonfiction titles about the First and Second World Wars.

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Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 : official history of the Canadian Army in the First World War

Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 : official history of the Canadian Army in the First World War

Nicholson, Gerald W. L., author
2015

Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson's Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 was first published by the Department of National Defence in 1962 as the official history of the Canadian Army's involvement in the First World War. Immediately after the war ended Colonel A. Fortescue Duguid made a first attempt to write an official history of the war, but the ill-fated project produced only the first of an anticipated eight volumes. Decades later, G.W.L. Nicholson - already the author of an official history of the Second World War - was commissioned to write a new official history of the First. Illustrated with numerous photographs and full-colour maps, Nicholson's text offers an authoritative account of the war effort, while also discussing politics on the home front, including debates around conscription in 1917. With a new critical introduction by Mark Osborne Humphries that traces the development of Nicholson's text and analyzes its legacy, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919 is an essential resource for both professional historians and military history enthusiasts.

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The cartographer of No Man's Land : a novel

The cartographer of No Man's Land : a novel

Duffy, P. S., author
2013

From a hardscrabble fishing village in Nova Scotia to the collapsing trenches of France, an astonishing debut novel about family divided by the great war.

Nova Scotia, 1916. Angus MacGrath, a skilled sailor and navigator, is lost--caught between a remote wife, a disapproving father, and a son seeking guidance. An ocean away from his coastal village, missing is Ebbin Hant, Angus's adventurous brother-in-law and best friend. Ebbin's unknown fate sets angus on an uncharted course with profound consequences for those he loves and those he comes to love.

In search of his own purpose and hoping against all odds to find Ebbin, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing and enlists. Assured a safe job as a military cartographer in London, he is instead assigned to the infantry and sent to the blood-soaked mud of the front-line trenches in France, where he begins his search.

At home his young son, Simon Peter, once wide-eyed about the war--clipping stories and sneaking propaganda--must navigate uncertain loyalties ina village succumbing to war fever. Separated by the ocean they once sailed together, Angus and Simon Peter search for what it takes to survive, each trying in his own way to return to the other. Every character in this exquisitely told story seeks to protect what matters most in the face of war's upheaval.

Drawing on extensive research and years of sailing in Nova Scotia, and inspired by the silent testament of sacrifice in the battlefield cemeteries of France, P. S. Duffy brings us a breathtaking work of historical fiction, epic in scope but intimately rendered. The Cartographer of No Man's Land is a novel about the immutable thirst for meaning in a shifting, uncertain landscape.

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Dam busters : Canadian airmen and the secret raid against Nazi Germany

Dam busters : Canadian airmen and the secret raid against Nazi Germany

Barris, Theodore, author
2018

National Bestseller

Foreword by Peter Mansbridge

"Barris tells the jaw-dropping story of a night that changed the war." --The Globe and Mail

It was a night that changed the Second World War. The secret air raid against the hydroelectric dams of Germany's Ruhr River took years to plan, involved an untried bomb and included the best aircrewmen RAF Bomber Command could muster--many of them Canadian. The attack marked the first time the Allies tactically took the war inside Nazi Germany. It was a military operation that became legendary.

On May 16, 1943, nineteen Lancaster bombers carrying 133 airmen took off on a night sortie code-named Operation Chastise. Hand-picked and specially trained, the Lancaster crews flew at treetop level to the industrial heartland of the Third Reich and their targets--the Ruhr River dams, whose massive water reservoirs powered Nazi Germany's military-industrial complex.

Each Lancaster carried an explosive, which when released just sixty feet over the reservoirs, bounced like a skipping stone to the dam, sank and exploded. The raiders breached two dams and damaged a third. The resulting torrent devastated enemy power plants, factories and infrastructure a hundred miles downstream.

Every airmen on the raid understood that the odds of survival were low. Of the nineteen outbound bombers, eight did not return. Operation Chastise cost the lives of fifty-three airmen, including fourteen Canadians. Of the sixteen RCAF men who survived, seven received military decorations.

Based on interviews, personal accounts, flight logs, maps and photographs of the Canadians involved, Dam Busters recounts the dramatic story of these young Commonwealth bomber crews tasked with a high-risk mission against an enemy prepared to defend the Fatherland to the death.

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Dear Evelyn

Dear Evelyn

Page, Kathy, 1958- author
2018

WINNER OF THE 2018 ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE

A 2018 KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2018

A TORONTO STAR TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR

A WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FAVOURITE BOOK OF THE YEAR

A QUILL & QUIRE BEST BOOK OF 2018

Born between the wars on a working-class London street, Harry Miles wins a scholarship and a chance to escape his station, but discovers instead that poetry is what offers him real direction. While searching for more of it he meets Evelyn Hill on the steps of Battersea Library. The two fall in love as the world prepares once again for war, but their capacity to care for each other over the ensuing decades becomes increasingly tested.

Twisting and startling, harrowing and deeply tender, Dear Evelyn explores how two very different people come together to shape and reshape each other over a lifetime. It is a compelling and unconventional love story that will leave its mark on any reader who has ever loved.

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Dispatches from the front : Matthew Halton, Canada's voice at war

Dispatches from the front : Matthew Halton, Canada's voice at war

Halton, David (News correspondent), author
2015

""This is Matthew Halton of the CBC." So began Matthew Halton's war broadcasts. Originally a reporter for the Toronto Star, Matt Halton, as Senior War Correspondent for the CBC during the Second World War, reported from the front lines in Italy and Northwest Europe, and became "the voice of Canada at war." His reports were at times tender and sad and other times shocking and explosive. Covering the flashpoints of his generation--from the war trenches to the coronation of the Queen--Halton filed a series of reports warning that the Third Reich was "becoming a vast laboratory and breeding ground for war." For a decade he chronicled Europe's drift to disaster, covering the breakdown of the League of Nations, the Spanish Civil War, and the Nazi takeover of Austria and Czechoslovakia. Along the way he interviewed Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Herman Goering, Neville Chamberlain, Charles de Gaulle, Mahatma Gandhi, and dozens of others who shaped the history of the last century. Drawing on extensive interviews and archival research, this definitive biography, written by Matthew's son, acclaimed former CBC correspondent David Halton, is a fascinating look at the career of one of the most acco

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The emperor's orphans

The emperor's orphans

Ito, Sally, 1964-
2018

During the Second World War, approximately 4,000 Japanese-Canadians were "repatriated" to Japan. Among those Canadians sent back to were members of author and poet, Sally Ito's family. As a Japanese Canadian child growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta, Ito's early life was a lone island of steamed tofu and vegetables amidst a sea of pot roast and mashed potatoes. Through the Redress movement of the late 80s, the eventual Parliamentary acknowledgment of wartime injustices, and the restoration of citizenship to those exiled to Japan she considers her work as an author of poetry and prose, meditating on themes of culture and identity.

Later as a wife and mother of two, Sally returns to Japan and re-lives the displacement of her family through interviews, letters, and shared memories. Throughout herjJourney Ito weaves a compelling narrative of her family's journey through the darkest days of the Pacific War, its devastating aftermath, and the repercussions on cultural identity for all the Emperor's Orphans.

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Forgotten victory : First Canadian Army and the cruel winter of 1944-45

Forgotten victory : First Canadian Army and the cruel winter of 1944-45

Zuehlke, Mark, author
2014

During the winter of 1944-45, the western allies desperately sought a strategy that would lead to Germany's quick defeat. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers in trenches and dugouts suffered through the bitterest European winter in fifty years.

The Allied high command decided that First Canadian Army would launch the pivotal offensive to win the war--an attack against the Rhineland, an area of Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. Winning this land would give them a launching point for crossing the river and driving into Germany's heartland.

But before the Allies could strike, Hitler launched a massive offensive towards Antwerp, the Battle of the Bulge. By the time the Germans were driven back to their start lines, the first thaws had begun. Previously frozen ground, ideal for mobile warfare, had turned to quagmire. Anticipating the Allied attack, the Germans broke dams and dykes to inundate great swaths of the Rhine's floodplain.

On February 8, 1945, First Canadian Army launched Operation Veritable. Advancing on the heels of the greatest artillery bombardment yet fired by the western Allies, thousands of Canadian and British troops advanced into an inferno of battle under orders to surrender not an inch of German soil. Infantrymen were forced to fight relentlessly, with little support and often in close quarters, for thirty-eight gruelling and costly days.

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Hell in Flanders Fields : Canadians at the second battle of Ypres

Hell in Flanders Fields : Canadians at the second battle of Ypres

Cassar, George H.
2010

On 22 April 1915, the men of the 1st Canadian Division faced chlorine gas, a new lethal weapon against which they had no defence. In defiance of a particularly horrible death, or, at the very least, severe lung injury, these untested Canadians fought almost continuously for four days, often hand-to-hand, as they clung stubbornly against overwhelming odds to a vital part of the Allied line after the French units on their left fled in panic. By doing so, they saved 50,000 troops in the Ypres salient from almost certain destruction, and, in addition, prevented the momentum of the war from tipping in favour of the Germans.

In this new, deeply researched account, the distinguished military historian George H. Cassar skillfully blends into the history of the battle the graphic and moving words of the men on the front line. Illustrated with outstanding photographs and numerous maps, and drawing from diaries, letters, and documents from every level of planning, Hell in Flanders Fields is an authoritative, gripping drama of politics, strategy, and human courage.

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In Flanders Fields : 100 years

In Flanders Fields : 100 years

2015

In early 1915, the death of a young friend on the battlefields of Ypres inspired Canadian soldier, field surgeon and poet John McCrae to write In Flanders Fields.' Within months of the poem's December 1915 publication in the British magazine Punch it became part of the collective consciousness in North America and Europe, and its extraordinary power has endured over the decades and across generations. In this anthology, Canada's finest historians, novelists and poets contemplate the evolving meaning of the poem.'

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Into the blizzard : walking the fields of the Newfoundland dead

Into the blizzard : walking the fields of the Newfoundland dead

Winter, Michael, 1965- author
2014

Award-winning novelist Michael Winter turns his hand to nonfiction in this gripping and uniquely personal book about the young men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who were all but annihilated 100 years ago, at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War--and the surprising political and social reverberations of that battle, which are still felt in Canada and in Europe today. This is history as only Michael Winter could write it--urgently alive, affecting and relevant.

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The madman and the butcher : the sensational wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie

The madman and the butcher : the sensational wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie

Cook, Tim, 1971-
2010

Based on newly uncovered sources, The Madman and the Butcher is a powerful double biography of Sam Hughes and Arthur Currie and the story of one of the most shocking and highly publicized libel trials in Canadian history.

Sir Arthur Currie achieved international fame as Canadian Corps commander during the Great War. He was recognized as a brilliant general, morally brave, and with a keen eye for solving the challenges of trench warfare. But wars were not won without lives lost. Who was to blame for Canada's 60,000 dead?

Sir Sam Hughes, Canada's war minister during the first two and a half years of the conflict, was erratic, outspoken, and regarded by many as insane. Yet he was an expert on the war. He attacked Currie's reputation in the war's aftermath, accusing him of being a butcher, a callous murderer of his own men.

Set against the backdrop of Canadians fighting in the Great War, this engaging narrative explores questions of Canada's role in the war, the need to place blame for the terrible blood loss, the nation's discomfort with heroes, and the very public war of reputations that raged on after the guns fell silent.

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No free man: Canada, the Great War, and the enemy alien experience

No free man: Canada, the Great War, and the enemy alien experience

Kordan, Bohdan S.
2016

Approximately 8,000 Canadian civilians were imprisoned during the First World War because of their ethnic ties to Germany, Austria-Hungary, and other enemy nations. Although not as well-known as the later internments of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War, these incarcerations played a crucial role in shaping debates about Canadian citizenship, diversity, and loyalty. Tracing the evolution and consequences of Canadian government policy towards immigrants of enemy nationality, No Free Man is a nuanced work that acknowledges both the challenges faced by the Government of Canada as well as the experiences of internees and their families. Bohdan Kordan gives particular attention to the ways in which the political and legal status of enemy subjects configured the policy and practice of internment and how this process ? magnified by the challenges of the war ? affected the broader concerns of public order and national security. Placing the issue of internment within the wider context of community and belonging, Kordan further delves into the ways that wartime turbulence and anxieties shaped public attitudes towards the treatment of enemy aliens. He concludes that Canada?s leadership failed to protect immigrants of enemy origin during a period of intense suspicion, conflict, and crisis. Framed by questions about government rights, responsibilities, and obligations, and based on extensive archival research, No Free Man provides a systematic and thoughtful account of Canadian government policy towards enemy aliens during the First World War.

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Obasan

Obasan

Kogawa, Joy
1983

A powerful and passionate novel, Obasan tells, through the eyes of a child, the moving story of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. Naomi is a sheltered and beloved five-year-old when Pearl Harbor changes her life. Separated from her mother, she watches bewildered as she and her family become enemy aliens, persecuted and despised in their own land. Surrounded by hardship and pain, Naomi is protected by the resolute endurance of her aunt Obasan and the silence of those around her. Only after Naomi grows up does she return to question the haunting silence.


 

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Our finest hour : Canada fights the Second World War

Our finest hour : Canada fights the Second World War

Bercuson, David Jay, author.
2015

First published in 1995 as Maple Leaf Against the Axis, Our Finest Hour has been completely revised and updated, with new chapters that reflect the latest research about Canada's home front in the war and the formulation and execution of Canadian war strategy at the highest levels. Although Canada was not ready for war in 1939, the people of Canada and their armed forces eventually overcame major challenges--from the building of tanks, planes, ships and trucks and the production of huge amounts of grain, meat and vegetables to the creation of the only full Canadian field army in history and a navy and air force crucial to Allied victory. From Hong Kong to the Rhine River Crossing, Our Finest Hour delves incisively into the pivotal battles of the Second World War and the roles of the Canadian army, navy and air force. Bestselling author David Bercuson probes the war on the ground, on the seas and in the air--from the bomber offensive over Germany to the Typhoon fighter squadrons with the Second Tactical Air Force in Europe. With an unfliching eye, he provides insight into the successes and failures, triumphs and shortcomings of the Canadian military.

Our Finest Hour is at once a masterpiece of historical narrative and a celebration of a growing country's contribution during the Second World War.

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Remembrance : a story

Remembrance : a story

MacLeod, Alistair, author
2014

From one of the most beloved storytellers of our time, Remembrance is the last published story by Alistair MacLeod, and a moving story of three generations of men from a single family whose lives are forever altered by the long shadow of war. Now available in book form for the first time in a beautiful gift edition.
In the early morning hours of November 11, David MacDonald, a veteran of the Second World War, stands outside his Cape Breton home, preparing to attend what will likely be his last Remembrance Day ceremony. As he waits for the arrival of his son and grandson, he remembers his decision to go to war in desperation to support his young family. He remembers the horrors of life at the frontlines in Ortona, Italy, and then what happened in Holland when the Canadians arrived as liberators. He remembers how the war devastated his own family, but gave him other reasons to live. What emerges is an elegant, life-affirming meditation on "how the present always comes out of the past," and how even in the midst of tragedy and misfortune there exists the possibility for salvation.

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Requiem

Requiem

Itani, Frances, 1942-
2011

Bin Okuma, a celebrated visual artist, has recently and quite suddenly lost his wife, Lena. He and his son, Greg, are left to deal with the shock. But Greg has returned to his studies on the East Coast, and Bin finds himself alone and pulled into memories he has avoided for much of his life. In 1942, after Pearl Harbor, his Japanese Canadian family was displaced from the West Coast. Now, he sets out to drive across the country: to complete the last works needed for an upcoming exhibition; to revisit the places that have shaped him; to find his biological father, who has been lost to him. It has been years since his father made a fateful decision that almost destroyed the family. Now, Bin must ask himself whether he really wants to find him. With the persuasive voice of his wife in his head, and the echo of their great love in his heart, he embarks on an unforgettable journey that encompasses art and music, love and hope.

A story of great loss, a story of redemption, a story of abiding love, Requiem is a beautifully written and evocative novel about a family torn apart by the past and a man's present search for solace.

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The secret history of soldiers : how Canadians survived the Great War

The secret history of soldiers : how Canadians survived the Great War

Cook, Tim, 1971- author
2018

There have been thousands of books on the Great War, and hundreds on Canada's part in the conflict, but most of these have focused on commanders, battles, strategy, and tactics. Less attention has been paid to the daily lives of the combatants, how they coped with and endured the unimaginable conditions of what was then modern industrial warfare: the rain of shells, bullets, and chemical agents. The Secret History of Soldiers examines how those who managed to survive the horrific conditions of trench warfare on the Western Front found solace, relief, distraction and even entertainment. Over the years, both writers and historians have overlooked this aspect of soldiers lives, as there are no official histories or records. These tales come from the soldiers themselves, captured in letters, diaries, memoirs, and oral accounts. The recollections and artifacts of more than five hundred soldiers form the basis of this book; they include such rare resources as trench art, postcards, and eve

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The stone carvers

The stone carvers

Urquhart, Jane, 1949-
2001

Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century,The Stone Carversweaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward's ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War,The Stone Carversfollows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.

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They fought in colour : a new look at Canada's First World War effort = La guerre en couleur : nouveau regard sur le Canada dans la Première Guerre mondiale

They fought in colour : a new look at Canada's First World War effort = La guerre en couleur : nouveau regard sur le Canada dans la Première Guerre mondiale

2018

Iconic photos from the First World War, newly colourized.



See seminal images of Canada's First World War experience in a new light -- offered in full colour for the first time -- with contributions from Margaret Atwood, Tim, Cook, Charlotte Gray, Paul Gross, Peter Mansbridge, and many others.



Canadians today see the First World War largely through black and white photography. Colourizing these images brings a new focus to our understanding and appreciation of the role Canada played during the First World War. It makes the soldier in the muddy trench, the nurse in the field hospital, and those who waited for them at home come to life. Immediately, their expressions, mannerisms, and feelings are familiar. They become real. They Fought in Colour is a new look at Canada's experience during the Great War. A more accessible look. A more contemporary look.

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Three day road

Three day road

Boyden, Joseph, 1966- author
2008

It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, is gravely wounded and addicted to morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to bring Xavier home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Ontario, their respective stories emerge--stories of Niska's life among her kin and of Xavier's horrifying experiences in the killing fields of Ypres and the Somme.


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Two generals

Two generals

Chantler, Scott
2010

A beautifully illustrated and poignant graphic memoir that tells the story of World War II from an Everyman's perspective.
 
In March of 1943, Scott Chantler's grandfather, Law Chantler, shipped out across the Atlantic for active service with the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, along with his best friend, Jack, a fellow officer. Not long afterward, they would find themselves making a rocky crossing of the English Channel, about to take part in one of the most pivotal and treacherous military operations of World War II: the Allied invasion of Normandy. Two Generals tells the story of what happened there through the eyes of these two young men -- not the celebrated military commanders or politicians we often hear about, but everyday heroes who risked their lives for the Allied cause. Meticulously researched and gorgeously illustrated, Two Generals is a harrowing story of battle and a touching story of friendship -- and a vital and vibrant record of unsung heroism.

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Valour Road

Valour Road

Nadler, John, author
2014

The First World War lasted for four years and three months. And when it ended on November 11, 1918, the people of Pine Street, a sleepy avenue on the outskirts of Winnipeg, came to a startling realization. During the course of the conflict, young Leo Clarke, Robert Shankland, and Fred Hall, all from their street, had each received the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery at that time. Such a phenomenon has never been repeated anywhere in the former British empire.

Accessing original documents in his research--such as the wartime diary of Leo's brother, Charlie, official war records, and general history--author John Nadler constructs a story of the three heroic soldiers, their families, and the enormous impact of WWI on a young Canada. This historic concurrence was so meaningful that a statue was erected in Winnipeg in tribute to these three ordinary soldiers, and their street was renamed Valour Road in their honour.

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Victory at Vimy : Canada comes of age, April 9-12, 1917

Victory at Vimy : Canada comes of age, April 9-12, 1917

Barris, Theodore
2007

National Bestseller At the height of the First World War, on Easter Monday April 9, 1917, in early morning sleet, sixteen battalions of the Canadian Corps rose along a six-kilometre line of trenches in northern France against the occupying Germans. All four Canadian divisions advanced in a line behind a well-rehearsed creeping barrage of artillery fire. By nightfall, the Germans had suffered a major setback. The Ridge, which other Allied troops had assaulted previously and failed to take, was firmly in Canadian hands. The Canadian Corps had achieved perhaps the greatest lightning strike in Canadian military history. One Paris newspaper called it "Canada's Easter gift to France." Of the 40,000 Canadians who fought at Vimy, nearly 10,000 became casualties. Many of their names are engraved on the famous monument that now stands on the ridge to commemorate the battle. It was the first time Canadians had fought as a distinct national army, and in many ways, it was a coming of age for the nation. The achievement of the Canadians on those April days in 1917 has become one of our lasting myths. Based on first-hand accounts, including archival photographs and maps, it is the voices of the soldiers who experienced the battle that comprise the thrust of the book. Like JUNO: Canadians at D-Day , Ted Barris paints a compelling and surprising human picture of what it was like to have stormed and taken Vimy Ridge.

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A wake for the dreamland

A wake for the dreamland

Deedrick-Mayne, Laurel, author
2015

Friends William, Robert, and Annie are on the cusp of adulthood while the world is on the brink of war. It is a Canadian summer in 1939 and Robert and Annie's love has blossomed, even as the inevitability of the boys joining up means separation and the first of many losses. Fearing he might not return, Robert makes William promise to take care of Annie. Every arena of their lives is infiltrated by the war, from the home front to the underground of queer London to the bloody battlefields of Italy. Even in the aftermath, in the shadow of The Dreamland, these friends fight their own inner battles: to have faith in their right to love and be loved, to honour their promises and ultimately find their way "home."

A Wake for the Dreamland was on the Edmonton Journal Bestseller List for 35 weeks before winning the Alberta Readers' Choice Award....

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Where white horses gallop : a novel

Where white horses gallop : a novel

Macneil, Beatrice, 1945-
2008

Where White Horses Gallop is a haunting tale of three boys who leave their home of Beinn Barra to enlist in the legendary Cape Breton Highlanders in the Second World War: fisherman Hector MacDonald, gifted musician Benny Doucet, and Calum MacPherson, who has been accepted at Dalhousie to study medicine. The three friends sail off to war in November, 1941, while at home their families suffer through the pain and uncertainty of their absence. Heartwrenching, lyrical and profound, the novel traces the effects of war on those who fight, and on those who stay behind. Praise for Where White Horses Gallop : "Beatrice MacNeil has a brilliant insight into the souls of the wounded. This is a splendid novel."-Alistair MacLeod "Beatrice MacNeil has written a wonderful book, heart-wrenching in its story and lyrically beautiful in its telling. ...MacNeil's language is pure poetry. Her vivid and original descriptions, her poetic metaphors and similes, and the graceful cadences of her sentences all remind us of the great pleasure to be had in the reading of finely crafted prose. When coupled with her expressive understanding of emotions, and her deep insights into character, the result is a profound and powerful novel." - The Globe and Mail

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