Alison Gillmor (CBC)
"I chose this book because I'd been reading Joan Thomas' reviews for many years, and they were so gracious and humane, so I thought, "I'm going to read her first novel." And wow! I think because she read so many first novels as a reviewer, she was like don't write this, write this. So it was like a first novel that wasn't a first novel. It was just so accomplished."
Alison Gillmor is one of our esteemed panellist for the first edition of Manitoba Reads.
Her Manitoba Reads choice is Joan Thomas' Reading by Lightning, a book about a family in rural Manitoba in the early 1900's.
Alison Gillmor has a BA in English from the University of Winnipeg and an MA in Art History from York. A freelance arts and entertainment writer, she has contributed to Border Crossings, Canadian Art, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic, Canada's History, Azure and the online literary magazine The Winnipeg Review. She writes regularly for the Winnipeg Free Press and for the CBC website Manitoba Scene.
Hear Alison read an excerpt of Reading by Lightning.
Joan Thomas: Reading by Lightning (Goose Lane, 2008)
Lily Piper and her family live in an ephemeral world, due to collapse any moment when the Lord comes to pluck His faithful from the drought-ravaged Prairie. Lily tries to be ready, but she is restless, not the daughter she feels her mother wants. As she tries to invent herself, she conjures, too, an imagined past for her beloved father in an effort to understand the demons he battles. In her teens, Lily is sent to England to care for her grandmother. There she falls in love, experiences life's ambiguity, and waits with the rest of England for the Second World War to start--until the news she has been dreading arrives on the doorstep, and she is called home to face a future she thought she had escaped. Thomas's prose is wry and intimate, elegant and devastatingly funny. Her engrossing story considers how we can make sense of a future when the future is something we can hardly imagine.