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Jane Urquhart is the author of five internationally acclaimed novels: The Whirlpool, which received Le prix du meilleur livre tranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France; Changing Heaven; Away, which won the Trillium Award and was a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award; The Underpainter, which won the Governor General's Award for Fiction and was a finalist for the Rogers Communications Writers' Trust Fiction Prize; and The Stone Carvers, a finalist for the 2001 Giller Prize and for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Storm Glass, and three books of poetry, I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace, False Shuffles, and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan (I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace and The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan were published together in 2000 in a one-volume collector's edition entitled Some Other Garden). Urquhart has received the Marian Engel Award, and has been named a Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. She was also the 2003 recipient of Alberta's Bob Edwards Award.
Urquhart has received numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and, during the winter and spring of 1997, she held the Presidential Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Toronto. She has also given readings and lectures in Canada, Britain, Europe, the U.S.A., and Australia. Jane Urquhart was born in Little Long Lac, Ontario, and grew up in Toronto. She now lives outside of Toronto.
The author of the award-winning memoir All but the Waltz here returns to familiar territory to examine the lives of her first-generation Montana-born ancestors. Her parents, born in the early 1900s, remained on their Montana ranch, proudly confronting adversity and drought, raising spirited horses as well as children. But the center of this memoir is the one who got away, Blew's favorite aunt Imogene, who became a schoolteacher, living alone for 40 years in a remote, scenic part of Washington State. Now nearly senile, Imogene, once the author's model of feminine independence, evokes puzzling questions and blurry images for the niece on a parallel life journey that includes divorce and single parenthood. Blew mines the repository of her aunt's memoirs and diaries, uncovering near-revelations that suggest Imogene's life was far from what it appeared to be. The memoir is energized by the search and by the author's connectedness to a Montana heritage. (June)
Like a heartbreakingly romantic ballad of hard times, unrequited love, and lamentation, Urquhart's third novel (following Changing Heaven, LJ 3/15/93) is an entrancing saga of a family who must leave Ireland for Canada during the potato famine of the 1840s. As a young girl in Ireland, Mary is taken ``away'' to the faeries after a young sailor (a faerie-daemon) whom she rescued dies in her arms. Although she does eventually marry, have a family, and start a new life in the Canadian wilderness, Mary still hears the call of her sailor and finally leaves her family to live the rest of her life alone by a lake. Her daughter Eileen, in turn, falls in love with an Irish nationalist whose passion is only for his cause; she spends the rest of her life ``away'' in thoughts of him. Urquhart beguiles the reader with a cast of lovable eccentric characters in a wonderfully surreal world that includes a talking crow and a man who can charm skunks ``away.'' An extraordinary achievement; highly recommended.-Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
"A dazzling novel...written by a major novelist at the height of
her considerable powers."
-Globe and Mail
"One of those novels that moves in and takes over your
life....Enjoyable not only for its complexity and subtle
characterization, but also for the sheer power of Urquhart's
writing....Away is simply a great novel."
-Books in Canada "Poignant, lilting and emotionally true....Urquhart [creates] her own spell with language that shimmers....."
-Chicago Tribune "Urquhart writes with clear, sensuous poetry."
-Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)