Gail Anderson-Dargatz is a Canadian author and she lives in the Shuswap Valley which is a beautiful area of Canada located in British Columbia. I’ve been there a few times and one of those times was on a houseboat trip down the Shuswap. There’s breathtaking scenery, mountains and just a sense of peace when you’re surrounded by that kind of beauty. I think this book really grabbed my attention because I am familiar with the area and of all the places she mentions. It makes you feel ‘one’ with the book when you can relate in that way.
While the story isn’t really a happy one, it is a really good one. The story is about Kat- Katrine (pretty name, isn’t it?) and her family. It is also about one of the raging forest fires that BC is unfortunate enough to experience much too often. The author used true accounts of the Salmon Arm fire of 1998 in her telling of this tale. Kat and her estranged husband Ezra and their son Jeremy come to help her parents pack as much of their belongings off the farm to Kat’s sister’s place. If they get an evacuation order they only have 10 minutes to get out so they must be prepared for that.
As Kat and her sister go through their mother’s things, Kat finds many things that make her question all she has known her whole life. As the story progresses more truths come to light, an old love is present again, and Kat must decide what to do with her own life.
This really is a wonderful story. I also enjoyed that it has pictures at the beginning of each chapter of old items from days past. There’s cute things like an old razor, a Nabob tea tin, and an old camera; just to name a few of them. I finished this novel quickly, it kept my interest and had me wanting to keep on turning the pages to the end. Gail Anderson-Dargatz has filled this novel with vivid descriptions of the area and the fire-the effect it has-that makes you feel as though you can see it right there before your eyes.
Another thing that struck me is Kat’s mother writes down everything all the time. Kat feels it’s too much and has all her life as her mother did this when she was a young girl too; taking much of her time away from Kat. However, at the end of the book after the experiences of a day back at her childhood home saying good bye Kat pulls out her notebook and pen to record the day’s events. Then this is the part I liked: ‘to seize the memory within ink before it faded away’. How often do we experience something, whether it’s good or bad, small or momentous-and we think how we want to remember it always and yet after the passage of time the memory just isn’t as sharp. I’ve often thought I should journal certain daily events to keep the memories alive yet I never do. This novel has me itching to do that again. There’s so many memories I’d like to hold on to for a different day in the future.
This novel is part ghost story and part about how ordinary lives sometimes aren’t all they originally seemed to be. I would definitely recommend this book.