The Basics: Turtle Valley, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, 2007, 292 pages, hardcover
How I found it: I can't really remember how I read about it, but I know I must have been interested in reading it because it is by a female Canadian author, and it is about a region I am familiar with
What's it about?: This novel tells the story of a woman who must return to her aging parents rural home to help them pack up in the face of a looming forest fire. The home is located in Turtle Valley, which is near Salmon Arm, BC in the Shuswap Lake area. The protagonist, Kat, is reminded through the events of the story, of her complicated past, and the difficulties that are to come, such as her parents declining health and the aftermath of her young husband's stroke. Kat also discovers things about her parents and grandparents, who lived in their historic farmhouse, as she packs up the house in anticipation of its destruction at the hands of the fire. It's a complicated story about family, happiness, and self-discovery.
Did I like it?: I really enjoyed this book, and I actually couldn't put it down. I've never read a book by Anderson-Dargatz before, and I have no idea why. I don't think I had even heard of her before this, which is surprising. She writes beautifully and has a very engaging style. Her characters are likable and well-developed. The plot of this novel is also quite well developed, which several story-lines that all weave together well and are brought together in the lives of the family.
Will you like it?: I highly recommend this book. It's a great story and is well-written. I couldn't put it down and you probably won't want to either. My only disclaimer is that like most things I like, it's a bit of a woman's book and probably great for bookclubs.
But don't take my word for it: The usual publisher-approved blurbs from Amazon, a review from Vancouver's alternative weekly The Georgia Straight, one from January Magazine, info about the book from the author's website, and an excerpt of the book printed in Canadian Living Magazine,