Homesick

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It is the summer of 1959, and in a prairie town in Saskatchewan, Alec Monkman waits for his estranged daughter to come home, with the grandson he has never seen. But this is an uneasy reunion. Fiercely independent, Vera has been on her own since running away at nineteen – first to the army, and then to Toronto. Now, for the sake of her young son, she must swallow her pride and return home after seventeen years. As the story gradually unfolds, the past confronts the present in unexpected ways as the silence ...
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Overview

It is the summer of 1959, and in a prairie town in Saskatchewan, Alec Monkman waits for his estranged daughter to come home, with the grandson he has never seen. But this is an uneasy reunion. Fiercely independent, Vera has been on her own since running away at nineteen – first to the army, and then to Toronto. Now, for the sake of her young son, she must swallow her pride and return home after seventeen years. As the story gradually unfolds, the past confronts the present in unexpected ways as the silence surrounding Vera's brother is finally shattered and the truth behind Vera's long absence revealed. With its tenderness, humour, and vivid evocation of character and place, Homesick confirms Guy Vanderhaeghe's reputation as one of Canada's most engaging and accomplished storytellers.

Guy Vanderhaeghe's long-awaited second novel--the scrupulously honest portrait of a father and daughter very much at odds--and very much alike. A portrait of three generations, as heart-wrenching as it is funny, as compassionate as it is honest.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Canadian writer Vanderhaeghe ( Man Descending ) here examines the alienation plaguing three generations of a stiff-necked provincial family. In the late 1950s, widow Vera Miller returns home to her elderly father Alec in Saskatchewan after an absence of 17 years. Her teenage son Daniel has been getting out of hand--he is the cause of their homecoming. Once bitter because her father forced her to quit school to care for her younger, motherless brother Earl, proud Vera now takes a job as a movie usher while her son struggles to make friends and turns to his increasingly dotty grandfather for comfort. Daniel learns from Alec that Earl, whose whereabouts are unknown to his sister, died some years ago of meningitis while hospitalized for a mental breakdown. Told in alternating voices and flashbacks, the narrative does not always hang together, and skimpy characterization sometimes renders Vera, the novel's emotional center, shrill and unsympathetic. However, the author's skillful depiction of the growing relationship between Daniel and Alec is warm and real, as is the gradual breakdown of barriers between father and daughter. The novel ultimately succeeds as a quiet, moving story of family forgiveness. (May)
From the Publisher
Homesick is one of those books you don’t want to put down and one that haunts you long after you have. . . . It is not just good, it is wise and compassionate.…”
Edmonton Journal

“Vanderhaeghe has the uncanny ability to bring characters to life with searing fidelity.…Homesick is a powerful and moving novel.”
Globe and Mail

“It is a fine, rare accomplishment.”
Books in Canada

“He skillfully interweaves the lives of one of the most contrary families in literature, placing them right up there with Faulkner’s Snopse family for eccentricity and misplaced pride.…”
Halifax Chronicle Herald

“One has only to read the first page of Guy Vanderhaeghe’s Homesick to see why his books have garnered him international awards and the reputation as one of Canada’s most promising young writers.…Vanderhaeghe’s lush, highly readable prose brings the setting and the characters to vivid, sparkling life. They could be our neighbours – they could be us. This is the story of any family that has ever let pride and stubbornness stand in the way of a fulfilling relationship.”
Regina Leader-Post

“If great art is that which holds a mirror up to nature, as was once said, then Homesick is great art.”
Daily News (Halifax)

“[Vanderhaeghe’s characters] lift themselves by pride and love from the ordinariness of their world.”
Ottawa Citizen

“Vanderhaeghe has an unerring eye for the prairie landscape and a shrewd ear for the ironies of small-town conversation.…He balances his dramatization of the cycle of life with exuberant storytelling.…”
London Free Press

“Beautifully written…Vanderhaeghe writes in a spare, poetic prose that is deceptively simple. He used his medium very effectively to capture both the icy harshness and the warmth of family life.…Homesick is an unexpectedly powerful work.…His extraordinary talents deserve wide recognition.”
Kingston Whig-Standard

“His stories and novels are character studies par excellence.…”
–Andreas Schroeder

“Guy Vanderhaeghe writes about what he knows best: people, their sense of mortality, their difficulty in being good during a difficult time.…The dialogue and the characters are eclectic and real.”
Vancouver Sun

Homesick is a compelling yarn about the intensity of family feelings and relationships and how all too often it’s what isn’t, rather than what is said that counts the most.”
Star-Phoenix (Saskatoon)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780771086991
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Pages: 316

Meet the Author

Guy Vanderhaeghe was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan, in 1951. He is the author of four novels, My Present Age (1984), Homesick (1989), co-winner of the City of Toronto Book Award, The Englishman’s Boy (1996), winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction and the Saskatchewan Book Awards for Fiction and for Best Book of the Year, and a finalist for The Giller Prize and the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and, most recently, The Last Crossing (2002), a long-time national bestseller and winner of the Saskatoon Book Award, the Saskatchewan Book Awards for Fiction and for Book of the Year, and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, and a finalist for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book. He is also the author of three collections of short stories, Man Descending (1982), winner of the Governor’s General’s Award and the Faber Prize in the U.K., and The Trouble With Heroes (1983), and Things As They Are (1992).

Acclaimed for his fiction, Vanderhaeghe has also written plays. I Had a Job I Liked. Once. was first produced in 1991, and won the Canadian Authors Association Award for Drama. His second play, Dancock’s Dance, was produced in 1995.

Guy Vanderhaeghe lives in Saskatoon, where he is a Visiting Professor of English at S.T.M. College.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2004

    Wonderful Novel

    Homesick was a wonderful novel, showing the importance of family and unspoken love.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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