Books·Canadian

Natural Order

Brian Francis's novel follows an aging woman reflecting on her life as a wife, mother and friend from her quiet nursing home.

Brian Francis

Joyce Sparks has lived the whole of her 86 years in the small community of Balsden, Ontario. Today, she occupies a bed in what she knows will be her final home, a shared room at Chestnut Park Nursing Home where she contemplates the bland streetscape through her window and tries not to be too gruff with the nurses.  This is not at all how Joyce expected her life to turn out. As a girl, she'd allowed herself to imagine a future of adventure in the arms of her friend Freddy Pender, whose chin bore a Kirk Douglas cleft and who danced the cha-cha divinely. Though troubled by the whispered assertions of her sister and friends that he was "fruity," Joyce adored Freddy for all that was un-Balsden in his flamboyant ways. Years later, after Freddy had left Balsden for an acting career in New York, Joyce married Charlie, a kind and reserved man who could hardly be less like Freddy, and the couple suffered the loss of their son.

Voiced by an unforgettable and heartbreakingly flawed narrator, Natural Order is a masterpiece of empathy and a tender depiction of the end-of-life remembrances that one might undertake when there is nothing more to lose (From Doubleday)

From the book

"It's beautiful," I said, even though it wasn't my style. It was cut glass and silver. Something a movie star might wear. Is this what my boy thought of me? I wondered as he fastened it around my neck. He called me Elizabeth Taylor and I laughed and laughed. I wore that necklace throughout the rest of the day. In spite of its garishness, I was surprised by how I felt: glamourous, special. I was out of my element amidst my kitchen cupboards and self-hemmed curtains. I almost believed in a version of myself that had long since faded away.


From Natural Order by Brian Francis ©2011. Published by Doubleday Canada.

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