A Celibate Season, by Blanche Howard and Carol Shields
A Vancouver woman leaves her family for a ten month assignment in Ottawa where she works on the National Commission for Women and Poverty. This is the 1980’s and she and her husband communicate by letter and occasional phone calls (when the phone bill has been paid and the line functioning). There are a few meet-ups during the ten months but they increasingly parallel the changes that each partner is experiencing as they discover themselves and each other through ‘abstinence’. Beautifully written, in alternating voices by Blanche Howard and Carol Shields in a kind of nifty repartee that just doesn’t exist anymore. Pity. (Also a gorgeous through line involving lentils… brilliant, actually.)
Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym
How not to love a book that uses the word slut in reference to a woman who doesn’t keep an especially tidy kitchen.
“You’d hate sharing a kitchen with me. I’m such a slut,” she said, almost proudly.”
Or one who has no tea cups.
“I hope you don’t mind tea in mugs,” she said, coming in with a tray. “I told you I was a slut.”
(Set in the sluttish 1950’s.)
A Killer in King’s Cove, by Iona Whishaw
A woman leaves England for a quiet life in the interior of B.C. where everyone seems on the elderly side and is suspected (or suspects) that most of the residents are running from something. The question is: who is, who isn’t?
I’m not a big mystery fan insofar as caring who dunnit, but I love a good story and this is one. Also, the fact that it’s set in the 1940’s and includes details such as a picnic where sandwiches are wrapped in brown paper (never mind the body that’s discovered in the creek at the same picnic)… and, well, you have my attention.