Home Schooling

Home Schooling

by Carol Windley
     
 

The Giller Prize-nominated Home Schooling marks the American debut of a masterful, award-winning storyteller. Set against the moody landscape of Vancouver Island and the thrumming cities of the Pacific Northwest, Carol Windley’s stories uncover the hidden freight of families: in the title story, two sisters contend with their idealistic

Overview

The Giller Prize-nominated Home Schooling marks the American debut of a masterful, award-winning storyteller. Set against the moody landscape of Vancouver Island and the thrumming cities of the Pacific Northwest, Carol Windley’s stories uncover the hidden freight of families: in the title story, two sisters contend with their idealistic father’s sudden inability to provide for their family, and with their attraction to the same boy; in “What Saffi Knows,” a mother returns to a moment in her past when she held the knowledge that might have saved another child, but not the language with which to convey it; and in “Family in Black,” a young woman’s world is permanently changed when her mother abandons her father for a man who embodies everything her mother taught her to despise. Families dissolve and reform in new, startling configurations: ghosts appear, the past intrudes and overwhelms the present, familiar terrain takes on a hostile aspect, and happiness depends on unlikely alliances. With the invisibly perfect craftsmanship of Alice Munro, and the flesh-and-blood sense of place of Annie Proulx, Windley carves out territory all her own in these stories, each one a richly imagined world that will stay with readers for a long time.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Peopled by a handful of vulnerable yet resilient creative types, among them poets, musicians, teachers and artists, Canadian author Windley's accomplished story collection focuses on the domestic scene, examining how family, lovers and neighbors leave their indelible marks. Mostly centered on or near Vancouver Island, Windley's cagey moments of conflict deftly illuminate her narrators' capacity for both pettiness and grace. In "The Joy of Life," Alex finds herself living in the shadow of her best friend Dsire's idyllic life, but chances picking up the pieces when Dsire begins drifting from her husband and child. "Felt Skies" features a woman looking back on her connections with her strict mother and with her first adult lover, a much older man. Marisa of "Children's Games" moves into her lover's house and struggles to relate to his disagreeable, unpredictable son. Despite an abundance of similarly middle-class, introverted female characters, Windley keeps readers' attention with a fast pace and an eye for fresh details that make her efficient, achingly human dramas absorbing and sympathetic. (Feb.)

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Library Journal

Set against the idyllic backdrop of Vancouver Island and the bustling cityscape of Seattle, these eight short stories from Canadian author Windley (Breathing Under Water) will delight the reader with their understated prose. Whether it's the burden of a childhood secret, family crisis, romantic entanglement, or immortality and death, Windley spares us the exaggerated emotions those situations often provoke and unhurriedly disentangles the characters' hidden guilt, fears, and resentment. The result is a thoughtful analysis of the process of living and the need to make choices even when one sometimes suffers because of them. Her narrative, usually fragmental, often shifting in time, and with references to fairy tales, nursery rhymes, poetry, novels and films, adds a childlike yet intellectual dimension to the stories. Occasional quotes from philosophers such as Camus and Nietzsche stimulate deeper exploration into the characters' psyches. The stories in this anthology will remind one of an Atom Egoyan screenplay that switches between the past and the present while philosophically contemplating the issues of existence and human relationships. Reading Windley can be a mesmerizing experience; recommended for public and academic libraries.
—Victor Or

Kirkus Reviews
Eight elegant short stories by Canadian novelist Windley (Breathing Underwater, 1998, etc.) plumb the themes of loss, memory and the desire to belong. Disappointment is the norm for the clear-eyed, quietly intelligent protagonists. In "Home Schooling," 17-year-old Annabel lives with her family in a desolate abandoned boarding school on a remote Canadian island; her father had been headmaster until a student's accidental drowning led to the school's closing. Annabel is sleeping with a college student she's identified as her "likeliest means of rescue," but then she learns that he's in love with her younger sister. "Children's Games" chronicles the discomfort of a restless young woman who moves into the home of her boyfriend, a single dad, and finds it still filled with the belongings of his ex-wife. In "Felt Skies," a fledgling copywriter who grew up without a father gets involved with a hard-drinking, much older journalist, to the chagrin of her loving mother. "The Joy of Life" follows Alex as she accompanies her glamorous best friend Desiree to an artist's retreat in Wales. She winds up babysitting Desiree's young daughter Loren while mom carries on with a local poet, a fraught situation further complicated by the fact that Alex secretly covets her friend's husband back at home. Alex isn't the only character who leaves most of her feelings unaddressed. In the haunting opening piece, "What Saffi Knows," the eponymous heroine recalls her childhood some 40 years earlier, when she may have been the sole witness to an unspeakable act she could not recognize at the time as a crime. With nary a false or clumsy sentence, Windley demonstrates an effortless understanding of complex human naturethat invites obvious comparisons to her gifted compatriot Alice Munro. This slim volume gives every indication that they are warranted. Beautifully crafted and devoid of sentimentality. Agent: Marc Cote/Cormorant Books

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781896951911
Publisher:
Cormorant Books
Publication date:
10/28/2006
Pages:
300

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