Encompassing more than a century and covering the country from sea to sea, Heritage City author Anne DeGrace’s new novel was described by the Globe and Mail as “a beautiful achievement by a gifted writer.”
DeGrace reads from Flying with Amelia (McArthur & Co) at Castlegar & District Public Library on June 7 at 7 p.m.
“I love Canadian history, and I’m fascinated with how the events we read in the history books affected regular folks, just living their lives,” DeGrace said.
“I’ve played with this idea before, but I wanted to cover a lot of territory, and to offer different personal views through the window of history.”
In Flying with Amelia, the descendents of an Irish immigrant family scatter across the country. From St. John’s Newfoundland to BC and north to the Beaufort Sea, the story weaves the identity of a young Canada.
The breadth and scope of the novel demanded authenticity in terms of voice and cultural nuance, a challenge DeGrace found engaging, and, if occasionally daunting, always exciting.
“The stories within the novel took me places beyond my scope of familiarity,” DeGrace explained.
“The Language of Bones takes place on Hershel Island, much farther north than I will likely ever travel, while To be Like You describes the experience of enforced education on Sons of Freedom Doukhobor children, which was outside of my cultural experience. The research for all of the stories — including first person interviews — was enlightening.”
DeGrace explains that famous pilot Amelia Earhart serves as a metaphor for courage and hope as she caught the imagination of the world—and the characters in the title chapter—in the 1930s.
“Flying with Amelia is part intergenerational tale, part six-degrees-of-separation, with small-world moments throughout,” said DeGrace.
“My hope is readers will see aspects of their own lives within its chapters.”
This is DeGrace’s fourth novel, following Treading Water (2005), Wind Tails (2007), and Sounding Line, (2009). Treading Water was a One Book, One Kootenay selection in 2009, and both Treading Water and Sounding Line were chosen as Heather’s Picks.