Rosey Edeh plans to channel the competitive drive that made her an Olympian for Canada Reads
The Canada Reads 2021 panellist spoke on CBC Radio One's Airplay with Dave White
Canada Reads will take place March 8-11, 2021.
In The Midnight Bargain, Beatrice is making her debut at "bargaining season" — an annual event where wealthy young men and women gather from all over the world to make advantageous marriages. But she harbours secret plans that will upend society. Rather than get married, Beatrice plans to bind a greater spirit and become a full magician. Performing the secret ritual goes against the rules of her world, which prohibits women from practicing magic while they can still bear children. With the help of the wealthy Lavan siblings, fiery Ysbeta and her handsome brother Ianthe, Beatrice searches for a way to change old patriarchal traditions.
"The Midnight Bargain is a fantastic journey filled with magic, love and self-determination. It's abiding, beautifully paced social commentary," Edeh said in the Canada Reads reveal on q. "The richly undulating odyssey in a world filled with oppressive customs, designed to shackle women's powers and confine them to a lackluster life during childbearing years, will take hold of the imagination and compel the reader to side with the outlier and measure their own mental fortitude to that of the protagonist."
Sizing up her fellow Canada Reads panellists
"My mom is a massive CBC fan. We've watched the show. When I was approached to be a panellist on Canada Reads, I have to admit I looked around going, 'Who, me? Really?' I'm thrilled. This is a dream for me. I have a voracious appetite for books, which developed into my 20s. Now I feel very strange without a book. It's only fitting that I'd be asked to be on this panel.
"I'm coming from this competitive athletic background. I've represented Canada at the Olympics. My competitive side comes out almost immediately.
The Midnight Bargain is a fantastic journey filled with magic, love and self-determination.
"I'm going to be that book's biggest champion, once we get down to the nitty-gritty of it all. It's going to be pretty stiff competition. Every panellist is keen, super bright and very committed to their own book."
The Midnight Bargain is more than fantasy
"It's a fantasy novel. If you think, 'Fantasy, eh, it's a little light' — don't think that. It's poignant, it's a social commentary. It takes place in this fantastic land, with many different countries. Along comes this character, Beatrice Clayborn. She comes from a family that's not as well-to-do. They're coming around to this time of the year where all the women who are of a certain age have to present themselves. Think Regency England, when a woman's worth is measured against the family in which she marries into and her family's wealth is tied directly to how well she marries. But this has a little magic in it.
It's a book about mental fortitude. It's about mental toughness. It's about standing your ground.
"The women and men, many are sorcerers. But women — once they get to the childbearing age and once they marry — have to wear this collar that restricts that magic. It strips them from any kind of true happiness, joy, passion. When they put the collar, everything goes dull and grey. They believe that women, when they are of childbearing age and when they become pregnant, if they were to allow magic, the spirits would take hold of the unborn child and come into the world through the child and wreak havoc on the world.
"And Beatrice is like, 'Why? I want to practice magic. This is who I am.' So she has to practice it in secret."
Connecting with Beatrice Clayborn
"It's a book about mental fortitude. It's about mental toughness. It's about standing your ground. She is a very brave, very strong minded individual. But she's got a lot of doubt. She has fear. I relate to that so much. When I was at the Olympic Games, in 1996, at the start line for the 400m metre hurdles in the finals, I was like, "I'm going to do it." There's a certain amount of incredible bravery. But at the same time you're like, "Oh my gosh." There is fear there, too. But you master the fear, you get in the box and get down to business and you do it, in spite of the fear. And that's Beatrice.
This is a book about hope, about overcoming that fear, about standing true to yourself.
"In spite of the fear, in spite of the doubt, she fights through it and fights for the right to live her own life. This is a book about hope, about overcoming that fear, about standing true to yourself."
The Midnight Bargain is a book for right now
"In this moment, this pandemic is ripping through the world and causing a lot of fear, and a lot of doubt. People are feeling isolated and uncertain. This is such a wonderful read because it takes you into the world in which Beatrice lives.
There's humour, there's levity, there is adventure and action and love. It has everything you need to escape.
"There's humour, there's levity, there is adventure and action and love. It has everything you need to escape."
Rosey Edeh's comments have been edited for clarity and length.
- Rosey Edeh champions The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
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- Paul Sun-Hyung Lee champions Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
- Roger Mooking champions Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi