Books·Canadian

The Girl from Dream City

A book by Linda Leith.

Linda Leith

It's the life that many dream of: education in some of Europe's most beautiful cities before becoming a novelist, essayist, translator and literary curator.

But the start of Linda Leith's journey is anything but idyllic. The daughter of a glamorous mother and a charming left-wing doctor, she is never told of her father's psychiatric breakdown or his subsequent shock therapy for what was then called manic depression.

As this secret festers, Leith's father uproots the family to various European cities as he reinvents himself as a corporate executive, eventually moving across the Atlantic to Montreal.

It's there, in her first year of university, that Leith is inspired by Madame de Staël: a writer and salonnière, banished from Paris by Napoleon himself. With none of Staël's advantages — no wealth, no social status, no château on Lake Geneva — Leith can scarcely imagine a salon, but she is drawn to Paris, and dreams of becoming a writer.

This dream fuels her education in London, her marriage and writing in Budapest, and — finally — her journey back to Montreal where she meets a community of writers and readers who she works with to transform the city's literary scene.

As Leith publishes, translates, and curates, she also comes to terms with her troubled father and the secrets of her childhood.

A luscious read, this book will rivet readers of Jill Ker Conway's The Road from Coorain and Tara Westover's Educated, or anyone who has dreamed of building a cultural life. (From University of Regina Press)

Linda Leith is a writer, translator and book publisher who lives in Montreal. She founded the literary festival Blue Metropolis and the publishing house Linda Leith Publishing. She is a member of the Order of Canada.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now