Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

"Look out the window.
The cultivated landscape of this farm has decayed so completely now, it is difficult to believe that the fields and orchards ever existed outside of my own memories, my own imagination. Even by the time I was in my early twenties, the terrain had already altered - almost beyond recognition - what with the bunkhouses deteriorating and the trees left unpruned and therefore bearing scant fruit."

Entomologist Liz Crane has returned to Lake Erie, Ontario, to study the migratory patterns of the monarch butterfly. She moves into the now-deserted family farmhouse where once she spent her summer holidays with her cousins. Her life is shadowed by the recent death of her cousin, Amanda, a military strategist killed in Afghanistan, and alone with her thoughts she reflects on the past.

She remembers the happy summer days surrounded by family and the evenings when her uncle told stories of the greats, and great-greats........ancestors of generations of Irish farmers and lighthouse keepers who left their home to pioneer new lives on both sides of Lake Erie. She grieves for Amanda while struggling to understand how the girl who loved books and poetry could grow up to be a soldier.

She remembers the Mexican migrant workers who came each year to work on the orchard and the young boy, Teo, who her cousins bullied and she befriended, and who would later become her first love.

And she recalls the terrible night when the family was torn apart and her uncle disappeared.

Sanctuary Line is a novel of movement and the changes that are inevitable with the passing of time. Of an adult attempting to find the reality that lies beneath the so-often distorted memories of childhood.The monarch butterfly is constantly present, it's migratory habits and life stages beautifully woven into the story as a metaphor. It's a quiet, introspective story written in lovely prose and with a wonderful sense of place; a story of loss, of mourning what was and what will never be. I loved the family history, the butterflies, the setting and the poetry quotes throughout but wasn't so keen on Mandy and Afghanistan. 
Overall - excellent reading!

Canadian Book Challenge 6



6 comments:

  1. This sounds very interesting!

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    1. Jane Urquhart has written several books and seems to be a well-respected Canadian author. This was the first I've read and it was beautifully written.

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  2. Sounds like a very thoughtful book, one for an introspective day. The cover with the smudging of the paint seems very appropriate for the story.

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    1. Definitely not for readers who like action and excitement. It was the cover that first took my eye - it's lovely and very appropriate.

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  3. I have this on my TBR shelf. I'm hoping to get to it sometime next year. It sounds like it lives up to the authors other works.

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    1. I liked it very much and am looking forward to reading more of her work.

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