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Jane Urquhart

Publisher: Penguin BooksFormat: Paperback

Esther O'Malley Robertson gazes out at Lake Ontario from her home for perhaps the last time. This house, highly charged with memories and history, is part of a landscape that is now being swallowed by industry. The story of her family's past has its beginnings in the 1840s off the northern coast of Ireland, where a young woman embraced a semiconscious sailor who had washed in with the tide, and later, with her husband and young son, fled the famine for Canada. Jane Urquhart imbues the past with a shimmering clarity as she takes us from the harsh Irish coast to the quarantine stations at Grosse Isle and the barely hospitable land of the Canadian Shield; from the flourishing town of Port Hope to the flooded streets of Montreal; from Ottawa to a large-windowed house at the edge of a Great Lake. The characters who inhabit the world of this novel include Liam O'Malley, a down-to-earth, first-generation Irish-Canadian farmer; his sister, Eileen, whose passionate idealism involves her, unwillingly, in a devastating act of betrayal; the eccentric Sedgewick brothers, Anglo-Irish landlords who tinker with science, art, and poetry; Exodus Crow, an extraordinary individual of mixed native blood; Thomas Doherty, a man known for his wind machines and his ability to charm skunks; Aidan Lanighan, a charismatic Irish nationalist with an obsessive interest in D'Arcy McGee; and Mary O'Malley, whose unusual love of a man leads her to a strange but inevitable fate in a new land. Away is a graceful and moving novel that unites the personal and the political and explores the most private, often darkest corners of our emotions where the things that root us to ourselves endure. Written in sensuous, evocativeprose, Away will confirm Jane Urquhart as one of the most accomplished novelists of our day.

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