Lucy is a lapsed-Catholic whose adolescent pretentions to sainthood are unexpectedly revived.
It all starts when her cousin Zoltan, in hospital following a bizarre incident at a party, offers her a disturbing deathbed confession. Lucy's grief takes an unusual turn: Zoltan's death appears to have turned her into a magnet for the unshriven. Lucy is transformed into a self-described "flesh-and-blood Wailing Wall" as strangers unburden themselves to her. She becomes addicted to the dark stories, finds herself jonesing for hit after hit.
As the confessions pile up, Lucy begins to wonder if Zoltan's death was as random and unscripted as it appeared. She clutches at alarming synchronicities, seeks meaning in the stories of strangers. Why do the stories seem connected to each other or eerily echo elements of her life? Could it be because Lucy has her own transgressions to acknowledge? And then there is that stubbornly resurfacing past, like a tell-tale ribbon of hair snagged on a fish hook.
With ruthless wit and dizzying energy, The Beguiling explores blessings and curses, sainthood and sin, mortality and guilt in all its guises. Weaving together tales of errant mothers, vengeful plants, canine wisdom, and murder, it lays bare the flesh and blood sacrifices people are willing to make to get what they think they desire. (From Hamish Hamilton)
Zsuzsi Gartner is a writer and journalist who currently lives in Vancouver. Her short story collection Better Living Through Plastic Explosives was a finalist for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize. She was a panellist on Canada Reads 2004, when she defended Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler.
The Beguiling was on the 2020 Writers' Trust Fiction Prize shortlist.
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