The Basics: Wind Tails, Anne Degrace, 2007, 302 pages, hardcover
How I Found it: I was given Degrace's previous book, Treading Water, as a gift the Christmas before last and absolutely loved it. When I saw that she was releasing a new novel I immediately put myself on the waiting list at the library.
What's it about?: The lives of several people from different walks of life all serendipitiously come together at an out of the way roadside diner one day in 1977. The premise is that the wind has blown these people towards the diner. The book is more a study in characters than a novel. Some characters, such the young and troubled Jo, are recurring, while others drift into the cafe, tell their vignette, and leave.
Did I like it?: This was an enjoyable read, but I didn't love it. I think Degrace is a great writer and I really like her style. However, I found this book a little disjointed since there were so many characters to keep track of. Eventually it became clear which characters were recurring and therefore important, and which ones I could forget about. I don't give it away, but I thought the ending was both obvious and contrived. It's also worth mentioning that like Treading Water, Wind Tails has a fabulous cover.
Will you like it?: If you are looking for under-appreciated Canadian authors, I think Degrace would be a great one to read. However, I think you should start with Treading Water, rather than this book. Wind Tails is enjoyable, it's just that there are quite a few contemporary Canadian novels that are a bit better.
But don't take my word for it: The usual publisher's blurbs and reader reviews from Amazon, a collection of reviews on the author's website, and an in-progress review from the blog In Over My Head.