The Fates Will Find Their Way, by Hannah Pittard

Purchased at Chapters.ca

I have had a good time following the Tournament of Books at The Morning News online for the last two years, but I’ll admit my favorite part of the ToB is the day that color commentator John Warner asks visitors for their last five books read and supplies a recommendation (this year it produced more than 100 lists and responses — you can see them here). Last year, I stole John’s “five book exercise” when I reviewed his recommendation for me, Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood, and we had a lot of fun with that here. So we’ll do it again this year — check out the bottom of the review on how to participate.

John’s recommendation for me this year was a debut novel from American author Hannah Pittard, The Fates Will Find Their Way, a book that proved to be an enjoyable, quick read — not the greatest book that I have read this year, but one that has much to recommend it.

The central event of the novel is the disappearance of 16-year-old Nora Lindell on Halloween night, an event that will have a major impact on all those around her, both then and in the years to come:

Of course, it wasn’t until the first day of November that most of us found out she was gone, because it wasn’t until the day after Halloween that her father realized she hadn’t come home the night before and so started calling our parents.

From what we could tell, and from how the phone tree was ordered that year, Jack Boyd’s parents got the first phone call. Mrs. Boyd, as presribed by the tree, called Mrs. Epstein, who called Mrs. Zblowski, who called Mrs. Jeffreys. By the time the tree had been completed, many mothers had already gotten word of Nora’s disappearance either from us — running from house to house — or from Mr. Lindell himself, who’d broken phone-tree etiquette and continued making calls even after getting off the phone with Mrs. Boyd. It was a breach of etiquette that our mothers forgave, obviously, but one that they agreed tacitly, behind the back of Mr. Lindell, added unnecessarily to the general confusion of the day.

The disappearance of a teenage girl, with all the potential tragic consequences that implies, is a relatively common literary device, but Pittard adds her own twist. The present tense of the novel is more than two decades on; Nora’s schoolmates were marked by the event at the time, but its implications have continued to influence them throughout those decades. While the group has dispersed and moved on with all the diversions (marriage, kids, divorce, even crimes) that that implies, they still get together on occasion and when they do they keep returning to Nora’s disappearance and how it has influenced them ever since.

No one knows exactly what happened. Two of the gang said they had seen her at the bus station that day, but one says “she got into the passenger side of a beat-up Catalina just before the bus pulled out”. Was Nora running away and simply hitching a ride? Or was the driver of the car her murderer who has hidden the body? And is Sarah Jeffreys telling the truth when she insists she had driven Nora to the abortion clinic in Forest Hollow the day before, after Nora had taken a pregnancy test in the school washroom? Teenagers being teenagers, the details of both what was supposedly seen and speculation on what might have happened are constantly changing, adapted to the interests of the individual doing the recounting.

That uncertainty of memory is enhanced by the fact that Nora and her sister, Sissy, were being raised by their father, following the death of their mother. That is unusual in this middle class community (better characterized by the parental phone-tree and the 10:30 curfews of the teens) — which adds fuel to the speculative potential.

Strangely, in the months to come, it was Nora’s younger sister, Sissy, who garnered much of our attention. We thought about Nora, of course. We wondered where she was, what she was doing. We told stories. But the more time that passed and the more we began to understand she was really gone, the more we kept those fantasies to ourselves, saved them for the times we spent alone after school, in our bedrooms, or in the kitchen in the dark before anybody else was awake, when our stomachs ached from an emptiness both primitive and prehistoric.

Pittard handles that aspect of the story more than competently, but the strength of the novel lies in the way that the gang has extended “those fantasies” and the uncertainty/speculation into their adult life. Did Nora in fact escape to Arizona where she found a waitressing job and a friendly Mexican male, as some argue? Does that explain some of the otherwise strange aspects of the way Sissy is choosing to live her life? Various members of the group keep saying they have spotted an adult Nora in locations around the world. And perhaps most important, can all of the gang use this event, and how it may have turned out, to explain and excuse some of their own failings as they struggle with adult life? Uncertainty, and the ability to speculate about what might have happened, can be a very convenient excuse to explain the unexplainable.

In the final analysis, The Fates Will Find Their Way deserves to be described as a “come-of-age” novel, rather than a “coming-of-age” one. I’d also observe that it is stronger on the process of what happened and continues to happen than it is on the characters involved — if Pittard had managed to give the cast even more depth, it would have been an even better novel, one that invited re-reading, rather than simply providing a worthwhile first read.

Comments on the book are certainly welcome, but let’s also move on to year two of KfC’s own “five book exercise”. Simply leave a comment listing the last five books that you have read (you don’t have to have liked them all — an indication of what sparks your reading curiosity is every bit as valuable as the outcome of the read) and I’ll offer a recommendation that reflects my impression of what your tastes are. Yes, given who and where I am, there will probably be more Canadian titles recommended than in John’s effort at the ToB, but it won’t be strictly Canadian.

This is not altruism on my part — I suspect I got more leads on books to read from the lists that visitors provided last year than leads that I gave people. So do pay attention to people’s lists — and if you have a recommendation of your own to make to someone, don’t hesitate to provide it. All thoughts are welcome.

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54 Responses to “The Fates Will Find Their Way, by Hannah Pittard”

  1. Jayant Pande Says:

    Hi Kevin,

    My first comment, this, though have been following you for well over a year.

    Here goes my list then:

    Currently reading:
    – The Portrait of a Lady, by James. Rather enjoying it, though was hesitant to begin it, given the mighty reputation.

    Last five read:
    – Disgrace, by Coetzee. Loved it.
    – Summertime, by Coetzee. Loved it.
    – Youth, by Coetzee. Loved it.
    – In A Strange Room, by Galgut. Liked it a lot, especially the last story.
    – The Finkler Question, by Jacobson. Found it mediocre, at best. Put it down after 50-odd pages, but then picked it up again after a while, and went on through to the end. Didn’t finish with as bad an opinion of it as I had had in the first try (“numbingly repetitive”), but found it rather weak, nonetheless.

    This is probably a poor time for me to have made such a list, due to all the titles being very well-known (and, mostly, widely-acclaimed), thus probably making it a bit more difficult to judge my tastes. Also there are too many Coetzees, but I have already bought almost all of his fictional works, so “more Coetzee” doesn’t work. But I look forward to hearing your suggestions anyway.

    Regards,
    Jayant

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Jayant: Thanks for visiting and welcome to commenting. Your list and comment suggest you like to find an author of established reputation and then explore her/him in depth so (instead of just recommending another James) here are two to contemplate:

      1. Edith Wharton — a personal favorite and a contemporary of James (but somewhat easier to read). You could start with either The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth (reviewed elsewhere on this blog).

      2. Also consider Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. It’s a 12-book saga of Britain in the 20th century but is not just historical — Powell does to Britain what Coetzee does to South Africa. I read it before I started blogging but you can find reviews of all 12 volumes at Max’s blog — Pechorin’s Journal.

      • Jayant Pande Says:

        Great. You are correct: I do read established authors more than others (though not exclusively — I’m pretty sure I’ll seek out Spurious soon, it looks too intriguing). Will pick up one of the Whartons soon, and the Powell maybe (may…be) later. Will let you know how I liked it (them). Thanks.

        • KevinfromCanada Says:

          Jayant: The Powell’s are short (I meant to say that in my initial reply). If you can find the first one — A Question of Upbringing — and try it, it will provide an answer. If you like it, the series works — if you don’t, don’t bother going on.

          • Jayant Pande Says:

            Ah. In that case, I will try it. Probably even before a Wharton, then, because it looks like it may be a change from what I have been reading lately. Thanks again.

  2. marco Says:

    Currently reading:
    Iris Murdoch – Bruno’s Dream

    Last Five Read:

    Ugo Riccarelli – Il Dolore Perfetto (The Perfect Pain)
    Alain-Fournier – Le Grand Meaulnes
    Stanley Elkin – The Magic Kingdom
    Savyon Liebrecht – Apples from the Desert
    Graham Joyce – How to Make Friends with Demons

    All good to very good books. A lucky patch.

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Marco: Ouch — we have different tastes and you are very well read in yours. So I will offer a couple of Canadian suggestions that seem to fit your interests, although it may be some challenge to find them.

      1. Porcupines and China Dolls, by Robert Alexie — reviewed on the blog, so check it out. Set in Canada’s Arctic, it is a political story about Church repression, but it also has a powerful element of native spirituality.

      2. Two Strand River, by Keith Maillard. Out-of-print and hard to find. An urban novel, mainly set in Vancouver with two central characters of ambiguous sexuality, the closing part ventures into shamanism on the upper British Columbia coast. It has been one of my favorites for almost 20 years now.

      • marco Says:

        It’s funny that you say that we have different tastes, because reading Il Dolore Perfetto I did think it was the perfect recommendation for you – it reminded me of The Stone Carvers in style and tone. Sadly it hasn’t been translated.
        Thanks for the recommendations.

        • KevinfromCanada Says:

          That was bad phrasing on my part — our tastes do overlap, but one of the things I like about your lists is that you read a number of books that I would not have high on my agenda.

  3. olduvai Says:

    Ok am emerging from lurkdom just for this one!

    Currently reading:
    Sparks: An Urban Fairytale – Lawrence Marvit (it’s a graphic novel)
    20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – Jules Verne

    Previously read:
    Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese
    Leaving Atlanta – Tayari Jones
    Play it as It Lays – Joan Didion
    The House of the Mosque – Kader Abdolah
    Eucalyptus – Murray Bail

    Didn’t quite enjoy the Didion but the rest were pretty good reads.

  4. KevinfromCanada Says:

    olduvai: Your list suggests a number of directions, so my recommendation may be off base. Consider Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows (one of the first books that I reviewed on this blog) — it moves from WWII Japan, through India in the Partition, into Pakistan and eventually America. What I refer to as a “wide-screen” novel — not an epic, but it shares some characteristics.

    And thanks for coming out of the lurker stands.

    • olduvai Says:

      Thanks Kevin.

      I’ve lingered over Burnt Shadows at the library a couple of times, but I sense the next visit is the one where I’ll actually pick it up!
      It’s also been fun reading the other comments for books to add to my list!

  5. Radz Says:

    Hi Kevin,

    This is a great blog and I have enjoyed reading many of the books recommended by you and John Self at the Asylum. So here goes…

    Currently reading:
    Montana 1948 – Larry Watson

    Last 5 read:
    Port Mungo – Patrick McGrath
    Sexing The Cherry – Jeannette Winterson
    Twilight – Stefan Zweig
    The Slaves of Solitude – Patrick Hamilton
    Cry Of The Owl – Patricia Highsmith

    All have been great reads.

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Radz: Thanks for the kind words. This is an “if” recommendation. “If” you like Montana 1948, try Guy Vanderhaege’s The Englishman’s Boy, which he followed with The Last Crossing and a third book on the same era is due out this fall .

  6. Trevor Says:

    My review of The Fates Will Find Their Way is one of the grumpiest reviews I’ve written. I felt a large portion of it superficial and based on a structure I couldn’t buy (I ended up feeling it was a bunch of short story assignments cobbled together, and once I felt that I probably became too ornery and responded more to that than any other aspect of the book), but I felt Pittard’s writing excellent and assured. I’m glad to read your more positive response after I have some distance from the book.

    Also, thrilled to see your book recommendation post up again! I have multiple unread recommendations from you (unread not for lack of desire — indeed, last year you recommended MacLeod, which I’ve been reading and enjoying all year long), but I want to play along.

    Currently reading: Jean Echenoz’s Running

    Last five:
    Jean Echenoz: Lightning
    Ann Patchett: State of Wonder
    Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö: Roseanna
    Joseph Roth: The Leviathan
    C.E. Morgan: All the Living

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Those five don’t have much in common, do they? I’ll track off the Echenoz with some aspects of Patchett and Roth and recommend Nancy Huston’s most recent, Fault Lines. Huston is Canadian (a Calgarian actually) who has lived most of her life in France. She writes her works originally in French (and has won most of the French prizes) and then self-translates into English the next year. Fault Lines has a story line that I think you would find interesting — but her others are very good as well.

      (I’m getting this sinking feeling that I may have already recommended Huston to you. If Mary Gilbert comes back here, I suspect she has read Huston in both languages and may have some observations to make.)

      • Trevor Says:

        I don’t think you have recommended Huston to me Kevin. I will take advantage of it! Exciting!

        • KevinfromCanada Says:

          I think you will find her very interesting — not just the one that I recommended, but her previous work as well. There is a new one out this fall (in English) that I am quite looking forward to.

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Trevor: I had completely forgotten that you had read and trashed this book. I just went back and re-read your review — you and I find exactly the same threads, but respond to them in very different ways. (Here’s a link to Trevor’s review — if you are interested in how two critical readers respond differently, despite similar readings, it is worth visiting.) And I would suggest that the length and detail of your review is an indication that Pittard may have been more successful in sparking a response, even if it was a negative one

  7. Mary Gilbert Says:

    I think this is going to be really popular so I’d better get in early….Having previously opined somewhat pompously on the thematic nature of my reading in a previous post I shall now have to reveal that my last five reads follow little in the way of rhyme or reason – apart from the fact that three of the five are non fiction.

    Shuichi Yoshida – Villain
    Recommended by Amazon readers. Not at all about a Mr Big but a rather austere account of a murder in a modern dormitory town. More about modern Japanese society than a murder mystery.

    Phillipont and Leinhardt – The Life of Irene Nemirovsky
    Anna Funder – Stasiland
    Read both of these recently on a trip to Berlin. The former is a bit `dry’ more about her books than her life. Stasiland was a fascinating backdrop for a first visit to Berlin

    David Eggars – Zeitoun
    Have wanted to read this for a while and found a copy in Berlin. Enjoyed it but was a little taken aback by the direction it took

    Robert Edric – The London Satyr
    One of my favourite authors. I love his lucid style. Some of his books show some humour but this one doesn’t perhaps because it’s about the shady world of Edwardian pornography. I really enjoy books set in this particular era

    Looking forward to your response Kevin and thanks for your time!

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      While I suspect you may have already read him, off your trip to Berlin, I’d suggest German author Christoph Hein. I reviewed Settlement when it was on the IMPAC 2010 shortlist and am looking forward to Willenbrock ( who joins Rabbit Angstrom as the only car dealers in literature). Hein writes about post-unification Germany, with all of the painful past (and present) that that entails.

  8. leroyhunter Says:

    This is a great feature, so at least ONE good thing came out of the ToB, which otherwise I thought a bit of a farrago this year.

    I bought your Berger recommendation last time but must shame-facedly admit I haven’t read it yet Kevin. Still, glad to have it on the shelf as he’s not someone I would have gone for otherwise.

    My last five:
    On Elegance While Sleeping – Viscount Lascano Tegui
    Alfred & Guinevere – James Schuyler
    The House of Mirth – Wharton
    At War – Selected Clippings 39-45 – Flann O’Brien
    POP 1280 – Jim Thompson

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      How about Jane Urquhart? Away is based in her own Irish ancestry — although set in Canada there’s lots of Celtic folklore and references (and humor). I also think highly of Changing Heaven, The Underpainter and The Stone Carvers — so you can see why Urquhart is on my short list of outstanding Canadian authors. Alas, her two most recent have not been up to her previous standard.

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Leroy: I forgot to mention — I also thought this year’s ToB was a disappointment. I wasn’t moved to read a single book beyond the handful of finalists that I had read.

  9. shawna Says:

    This is certainly a good way to get us lurkers out on the comment board.
    I’m going to follow the example of others on here and sneak in an extra book by also telling you what I’m currently reading.

    Currently reading:
    Toni Morrison: Beloved

    My last five:
    Mohsin Hamid: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
    Steven Galloway: The Cellist of Sarajevo
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Jonathan Franzen: Freedom
    A.S. Byatt: Possession

    Thanks! I look forward to reading all your recommendations.

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      I was hoping to be able to recommend one of my favorite novels, Ivo Andric’s The Bridge on the Drina, and your list provides the perfect excuse. Andric won the Nobel Prize in 1961 based almost solely on this novel — while I don’t often agree with the Nobel jury, I do on this one.

      The bridge of the title (it is a real bridge) is literally the crossing point between East and West — in the 400 year span of the book, the Ottomans control it some times, the Austrians others, depending on which empire is expanding or shrinking (so there’s some Hashid and Galloway connections). Needless to say, those who inhabit the area are powerless in the face of all this and have to “go with the flow” (as Franzen’s characters do). And it has the kind of spread of history that is so strong in Possession.

      A great book that I think will fit your tastes.

  10. Trevor Says:

    Okay, Kevin, here’s your challenge. Sherry’s last five:

    Uncommon Criminals: Ally Carter
    The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Alexandra Robbins
    Maisy Dobbs series: Jacqueline Winespear
    Fabelhaven series: Brandon Mull
    The Penderwicks at Point Mouette: Jeanne Birdsall

    Keep in mind:
    1. Sherry is pregnant and feels too tired to do something that requires deep focus.
    2. If I haven’t read it, I’m looking forward to your recommendation here too (as I did last year when you recommended Sarah Waters).
    3. Along with the books above, she’s been reading lots of fashion books.

    Cheers!

  11. Jenny Says:

    Kevin,

    I love this. I was biblio-oracled, too, and would love to give it another go-round.

    Currently reading:
    The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva. Was drawn to it by a recommendation from a friend. I like a breezy read in the summer.

    Last 5:
    1. Bossypantsby Tina Fey (got it as a mother’s day gift and enjoyed it. Funny. Silly. Strongly defends working motherhood while being honest about it’s drawbacks).

    2. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (Hmm. Liked the stories/folktales but thought the premise holding them together was paper thin. A good first novel, but didn’t quite live up to the hype for me).

    3. Star Island by Carl Haissen (Picked this up at going-out-of-business fire sale at my local Borders bookstore. I’m a school teacher, and the closer it is to the end of the summer, the lighter the reading I do.)

    4. Faithful Place by Tana French. (liked the first 2 and read this after school was out.

    5. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. (Loved this. Read it for a reading challenge that a friend and I are doing: reading books that have been on the ToBeRead shelf for over a year. My Dad fought in Vietnam, and I’m drawn to novels/history of that era as a way of trying to understand his experience.)

    Looking forward to your suggestion!
    Jenny

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Hi Jenny: Thanks for dropping by. Your last comment makes my first recommendation easy: The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud, which won Canada’s Giller Prize last year (your info suggests you are American — pardon me if you already know about this book). The story is about a daughter who is searching out her father’s Vietnam War history. Not breezy, so you might want to save it for a while, but it does seem to suit your interests. Also, not as good as Tim O’Brien, but I have not read any Vietnam book that is as good as his.

      On the light side, if you are up to a school novel, consider The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart. It is a YA novel (a genre that I don’t visit often) but hilarious in the way it explores the school experience — with a great strong female character in the lead role.

      • Jenny Says:

        I absolutely will check out your rec—-Thanks!!!

        AND, I loved “Frankie Landau-Banks” and routinely recommend it to my middle school students as the anti-Twilight!

        • KevinfromCanada Says:

          Here’s a bonus recommendation for you, then — Richard Yates’ A Good School. Darker than Frankie, but another excellent “school” story and equally anti-Twilight.

  12. margaret Says:

    My list won’t expose you to anything new as my reading selections are based on your reviews. But, here they are: (current) Alone in the Classroom, Montana 1948, Anabel, The Sentimentalists and How to Survive your Husband’s Retirement :)

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Margaret: I’m delighted that you gave me the opportunity to recommend Robertson Davies’ Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business, The Manticore and World of Wonders. It is a Canadian masterpiece that much of the rest of the world doesn’t know about — and when they do read it, gets an overwhelming positive response. I have a marvelous Folio Society edition which I would be happy to loan you.

  13. leroyhunter Says:

    Thanks for the recommedation Kevin. Your most recent review of Urquhart definitely piqued my interest: I think I went looking for her stuff and found it hard to get where I am. I’ll search her out again.

    On ToB, I thought the title selection was uninspired and the judging just flat out mystifying. They need to look at the format as well: allowing an eliminated book to come back and win it just makes a mockery of a “tournament” approach that is quite silly to start with.

  14. anokatony Says:

    I could see a variation on the game where the visitor lists the last five books they’ve read, and you give them the name of a book that they would absolutely detest based on their list.

  15. KevinfromCanada Says:

    Leroy: I suspect she doesn’t sell well enough to be stocked in stores — but a quick check at the Book Depository indicates most are available online.

    Tony: That would be both too easy (I’d just recommend Ayn Rand) or too hard (trying to figure out a book that someone would think they would like, but would actually hate).

  16. alison Says:

    Hi Kevin;
    I really like this idea and am curious to see what you have to say. I am in two book clubs, but am not going to include that reading because it’s not always something I would have read. This list might be might reflect what comes up in the library (ie how fast my holds get through), I think of the 5, 3 are library books.
    but here goes
    am about to start Blue Blood by Edward Conlon,

    have read
    1) The Spolier, by Annalena McAfee, loved it, lots of fun, very clever, very funny, more comments later
    2) The Tiger’s Wife, by Thea Obreht, liked it more than I thought I would, but suspect I also gave it leeway, loved the folklore, the story wasn’t developed as much as it could or should have been
    3) The Forgotten Waltz, by Anne Enright, liked it a lot, smart writing and engaging
    4) Three Seconds, (by two Swedes, a journo and ex con whose names I forget), a gripping thriller, high speed and worldly
    5) The Free World by David Bezmozgis, Loved it. Loved it

  17. KevinfromCanada Says:

    For those who don’t know, Alison is a fellow Shadow Giller jury member (and has been for 10 years), so this list is more of a challenge than most, i.e. I can’t recommend any Canadian novel from the last decade because I am quite sure she has alread read it. And we compare reading lists quite often, so I’m going to have to go deep into the stacks to find one that we haven’t already discussed.

    So, for a Spoiler-like journalism book, scout out a copy of William Weintraub’s Why Rock The Boat? (1961). Set in Montreal (Weintraub worked at the Gazette) it reflects the author’s experience hanging out with Richler, Gallant and Moore among others. It is one of the best “journo” novels that I have read and your list has sparked me to track down a copy online once the postal strike is over.

    As for a recommendation based on the other four, if you haven’t read it yet consider John Fante’s four-volume Saga of Arturo Bandini, an over-looked American classic in my mind. (Our mutual friend, Peter Sibbald-Brown did the design for two of the current volumes.)

  18. alison Says:

    Why Rick the Boat? sounds like a good one, I will order it at the library, thanks.
    I like journo books, it’s a great time to read them because so much is changing so quickly
    As for your other recommendation, I’m afraid I have read John Fante (and loved it). I used to proof read for PSB whwn I was a student…

  19. KevinfromCanada Says:

    Have you read John Williams (Stoner, Butcher’s Crossing, Augustus)? His catalogue is short but each of the three (and they are very different) is excellent. I read them all before starting the blog so no reviews here — Trevor has a couple at the Mookse and the Gripes. I’ve always included Williams with Stegner and Fante as authors who knew how to portray the American West.

  20. alison Says:

    I haven’t read or even heard of John Williams, so that’s a good suggestion. I like Fante and Stegner.
    I was also intrigued by your recommendation to another reader for The bridge over Drina. I am sure another reader who I really respect has also suggested it and it is about a part of the world that captivates me

  21. Patricia Says:

    Ford County: Stories by John Grisham
    Touch by Alexi Zentner
    Bear by Marian Engel
    Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill
    How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

  22. KevinfromCanada Says:

    Two books from last year might fit your tastes — Kathleen Winter’s Annabel and Dianne Warren’s Cool Water.

  23. Patricia Says:

    Last 5 books:

    Robopocalypse — Daniel Wilson
    Never Let Me Go — Kazuo Ishiguro
    Blood, Bones & Butter — Gabrielle Hamilton
    Little Bird of Heaven — Joyce Carol Oates
    Touch — Alexei Zentner

    • KevinfromCanada Says:

      Patricia: I’ve only read two on your list (Ishiguro and Zentner) and the other three suggest to me that there is not much overlap in our tastes. Based on those two however, I’ll suggest you might want to take a look at Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

  24. savidgereads Says:

    I hope you are still doing this Kevin, really looking forward to what you recommend (I will order it in from the library etc promise). So, currently reading Cedilla by Adam Mars Jones, after sadly giving up on ‘The Echo Chamber’ by Luke Williams which I so wanted to win. The last five fully read books were…

    Noblesse Oblige edited by Nancy Mitford (w. Evelyn Waugh)
    The Lost Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
    Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas
    Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan
    The Strangers Child by Alan Hollinghurst

  25. KevinfromCanada Says:

    Simon: The Strangers Child is stuck somewhere in the Canadian postal system (which is at least back in operation) so you are ahead of me on that one.

    I’d also point you to Easter Parade which I just reviewed today, but that seems cheating as a recommendation.

    So let me offer a Canadian recommendation for you: Fifth Business, by Robertson Davies (a colonial version of the Mitford/Waugh connection, with some elements that evoke Cedilla). Fair warning: it is volume one in the Deptford Trilogy and the next two are also very good. (And yes, I’ve already recommended it to Margaret, but I don’t feel guilty at all about recommending it twice.)

  26. savidgereads Says:

    I didnt so want it to win, I so wanted to love The Echo Chamber, apologies for that Kevin, and for not including The Spoiler instead of The Strangers Child (just checked my reading diary, oops!)

  27. savidgereads Says:

    Thanks Kevin, the omnibus has just this second been ordered in from the library, I should have it very soon and can exchange it for the oh such a let down ‘The Echo Chamber’.

  28. David Says:

    I finished reading “The Fates Will Find Their Way” yesterday afternoon, having whipped through it in about a day. Remembering that you had reviewed it, Kevin, I have just read your thoughts and also Trevor’s.
    I have to say I really enjoyed it. I haven’t read “The Virgin Suicides” (and I really must as it sounds like just my cup of tea) so the comparison wasn’t there in my mind. It did however remind me of Joyce Carol Oates’ “Broke Heart Blues”, another novel told in the first person plural, about how a group of kids are affected by the appearance and later disappearance of John Reddy Heart, a character who continues to dominate their lives over the ensuing decades as they fantasise about him, telling stories and misremembering until he becomes almost like a myth rather than a real person.
    I loved the way Pittard’s narrator included us, the reader, in that “we”, often telling us “you’ll remember when…”.
    The characters could have been better developed I agree, but they all existed as individuals for me, and I wonder whether – had she developed them more – the novel would have still had that same hypnotic rhythm that kept me turning the pages. Pittard certainly writes beautifully and I’d buy whatever she writes next without hesitation.
    It may not the greatest book, it’s true, it may not even be that original, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is one I may find myself re-reading at some point just for the pure enjoyment of it. In the meantime, I’m going to pick up a copy of “the Virgin Suicides”!

  29. KevinfromCanada Says:

    David: It is probably a bad sign that I had to go back to my review and remind myself what the novel was about when your comment came in — and it has only been two months since I read it. I did enjoy reading it, it obviously did not leave a major impact.

    Eugenides has a new novel out this fall (The Marriage Plot) which I am looking forward to — he is another “highly readable” author in my experience.

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