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About the Author

Carol Shields's novels include Larry's Party (1997), winner of the 1998 Orange Prize; The Stone Diaries (1993), winner of the Pulitzer Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; The Republic of Love (1992); Happenstance (1991) and Mary Swann (1990). Dressing Up for the Carnival, a bestselling collection of short stories, was published in 2000, and a previous collection, Various Miracles, was published in 1994. Born and brought up in Chicago, Carol Shields has lived in Canada since 1957. She was the Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg.

Reviews

With yet another delectable investigation into human folly, Shields helps launch a new imprint at HarperCollins. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

PRAISE FOR CAROL SHIELDS: 'Her perceptions are so quick, her style is so acute, that she can tack a breath to the page and skewer a thought on the wing. It is her speciality to isolate moments that remain distinct in the mind for years, perhaps for a lifetime.' Hilary Mantel, Sunday Times 'Few writers could make a book about what it means to be alone this charming.' Observer 'A wonderful, powerful book, written in a style which combines simplicity and elegance. Deeply moving.' Joanne Harris 'Shields writes like an angel, awesome in the intelligence of her observations and never less than elegant in expressing them.' David Robson, Sunday Telegraph 'It takes the vessel of fiction in its hands and hurls it to the floor ... a masterpiece.' Rachel Cusk, New Statesman 'As poised and wise a novel as any you will read this year.' Tim Adams, Observer 'Our most intelligent and beguiling observer ... Unless is her most raw and intentful novel yet.' Penny Perrick, Sunday Times

If I have any reputation at all it is for being an editor and scholar, and not for producing, to everyone's amazement, a fresh, bright, springtime piece of fiction,' or so it was described in Publishers Weekly. That cheeky self-description sums up the protagonist of Shields's latest, the precocious, compassionate and feisty Reta Winters, an accomplished author who suddenly finds her literary success meaningless when the oldest of her three daughters, Norah, drops out of college to live on the streets of Toronto with a placard labeled Goodness hung around her neck. Shields takes an elliptical approach to Winters's dilemma, slowly exploring the possible reasons why a bright, attractive young woman would simply give up and drop out. As Shields makes her way through Winters's literary career, her marriage and the difficulties she and her daughter face in being taken seriously as women in the modern era, she employs an ingenious conceit by tracking Winters's emotions as she tries to write a sequel to her light romantic novel while helping a fellow writer, a Holocaust survivor, work on her memoirs. As Norah's plight deepens and the nature of her decision begins to surface, the romantic novel turns dark and serious, and Winters faces a rewrite when her long-time editor dies and his pedantic successor tries to introduce a sexist plot twist. Reta Winters is a marvelously inventive character whose thought-provoking commentary on the ties between writing, love, art and family are constantly compelling in this unabashedly feminist novel. The icing on the cake is the ending, which introduces a startling but believable twist to the plight of a young woman who, in doing nothing... has claimed everything. The result is a landmark book that constitutes yet another noteworthy addition to Shields's impressive body of work. (May) FYI: As revealed in an April 14 profile in the New York Times magazine, Shields, who has terminal breast cancer, believes this will be her last novel. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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