Synopses & Reviews
Esther O'Malley Robertson gazes out at Lake Ontario from her home for perhaps the last time. This house, highly charged with memories and history, is part of a landscape that is now being swallowed by industry. The story of her family's past has its beginnings in the 1840s off the northern coast of Ireland, where a young woman embraced a semiconscious sailor who had washed in with the tide, and later, with her husband and young son, fled the famine for Canada.
Jane Urquhart imbues the past with a shimmering clarity as she takes us from the harsh Irish coast to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake. The characters who inhabit the world of this novel include Liam O'Malley, a down-to-earth, first-generation Irish-Canadian farmer; his sister, Eileen, whose passionate idealism involves her, unwillingly, in a devastating act of betrayal; the eccentric Sedgewick brothers, Anglo-Irish landlords who tinker with science, art, and poetry; Exodus Crow, an extraordinary individual of mixed native blood; Thomas Doherty, a man known for his wind machines and his ability to charm skunks; Aidan Lanighan, a charismatic Irish nationalist with an obsessive interest in D'Arcy McGee; and Mary O'Malley, whose unusual love of a man leads her to a strange but inevitable fate in a new land.
Away is a graceful and moving novel that unites the personal and the political and explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. Written in sensuous, evocative prose, Away will confirm Jane Urquhart as one of the most accomplished novelists of our day.
"An engaging and moving exploration of love: mother-love, romantic live, love of country....Away is a melancholy Irish ballad sung on foreign soil, its words and music all the sweeter for being heard so far away from home." The Washington Post Book World
"A great romantic tale rich in imagery and with language worthy of emily Bronte and Thomas Hardy. Like these writers, [Jane Urquhart] is unafraid of words and spends them fearlessly. The uses to which she puts her command of language are beautiful and breathtaking." Timothy Findley, author of the Telling of Lies
"Exquisite and magical" The Irish Echo
"Vividly drawn and richly textured...an enchanting and highly imaginative work that lights up the dark, haunted corners of the human psyche without diminishing their mystery." New York Newsday
“A dazzling novel…written by a major novelist at the height of her considerable powers.”
–Globe and Mail
“One of those novels that moves in and takes over your life.…Enjoyable not only for its complexity and subtle characterization, but also for the sheer power of Urquhart's writing.…Away is simply a great novel.” –Books in Canada
“Poignant, lilting and emotionally true.…Urquhart [creates] her own spell with language that shimmers.….” –Chicago Tribune
“Urquhart writes with clear, sensuous poetry.” –Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)
About the Author
is the author of five internationally acclaimed novels: The Whirlpool
, which received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France; Changing Heaven
, which won the Trillium Award and was a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter
, which won the Governor Generals Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers Trust Fiction Prize; and The Stone Carvers
, a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize and for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Storm Glass
, and three books of poetry, I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace
, False Shuffles
, and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan
(I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace
and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan
were published together in 2000 in a one-volume collectors edition entitled Some Other Garden
). Urquhart has received the Marian Engel Award, and has been named a Chevalier dans lOrdre des Arts et des Lettres in France. She was also the 2003 recipient of Alberta's Bob Edwards Award.
Urquhart has received numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and, during the winter and spring of 1997, she held the Presidential Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Toronto. She has also given readings and lectures in Canada, Britain, Europe, the U.S.A., and Australia.
Jane Urquhart was born in Little Long Lac, Ontario, and grew up in Toronto. She now lives outside of Toronto.