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November 14, 2020 at 2:14 am #6021Matthew RyanGuest
When Alice Lay Down with Peter
by Margaret Sweatman
- Format: hardcover, 472 pages
- Author: Margaret Sweatman
- Places: Manitoba
- Language: english
- Publisher: Knopf Canada
- Release date: September 18, 2001
- Awards: Sunburst Award for Canadian Novel (2002), Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (2001), McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award (2001)
- Genres: canada, fiction
- ISBN: 9780676973150 (0676973159)
About The Book
When Alice Lay Down with Peter, Margaret Sweatman’s third novel, is an entirely original history of the Canadian Prairies from the early years of buffalo hunting and rebellion through to 1970. Blondie, the wry narrator, recounts the story of four feisty women: her mother, Alice; Blondie herself; her stunningly beautiful daughter, Helen; and her artist granddaughter, Dianna. In her 109 years, Blondie has seen it all, from the hanging of Louis Riel to Helen’s death in the Spanish Civil War.
Assorted husbands, a banker, a monk, a communist, and several ghosts also make appearances, lending this marvellous literary confection set in Southern Manitoba’s Red River Valley a magical, eccentric atmosphere. Recurring floods and lightning bolts at the moment of conception add to the rollicking mix, which Sweatman narrates with rare skill and humour: “Eli looked at the corn as a Zen Buddhist would examine a screwdriver.” She delights in the way words flood their banks and find new channels through the flatlands: “My mother’s laughter, those nine months, came from the place where happiness and a nearly intolerable ache live together.” The beauty of her language never wavers. It is consistently inventive and, with the strong story, lifts this novel to another level. Highly recommended. — Mark Frutkin
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