Montreal·Books

Settling debts and navigating teenagehood— books for the last blast of summer

CBC Montreal book columnist Richard King has added 6 more books to his list of must-reads.

Let these books take you to Toronto's Little Jamaica, Germany in the 1930s or a high-end Montreal restaurant

A woman navigates the field of medicine, a group of friends fight back against Nazism and the latest book in the Ava Lee series are among this week's recommendations. (Submitted by Richard King)

Into That Fire

In Into That Fire, M.J. Cates tells the story of Imogen Lang, a medical student who specializes in psychiatry. The character is based on a real person, Dr. Phyllis Greenacre, one of the first women to practise in that field. The novel is set from the onset of the First World War to the period right after. Dr. Lang works at the Phipps Psychiatric Clinic in Baltimore and struggles in both her professional and personal life. She has to fight to make her way in a male-dominated profession, deal with demons from her past and cope with her emotionally absent father. Dr. Lang also makes the difficult decision to break up with her boyfriend, Quentin Goodchild who, heartbroken, joins the Canadian army and is sent to the field of battle.

Resistance Women

Jennifer Chiaverini also takes on the topic of how people cope with war and tragedy in her novel, Resistance Women. The year is 1929, and the setting is the run up to the Second World War. Mildred Fish, a graduate student in English literature at the University of Wisconsin, decides to follow her husband, Arvid Harnack, a graduate student in economics, to Germany — the country of his birth. The novel traces the lives of Mildred, Arvid and other characters as Hitler rises to power. The author realistically captures the slow but steady growth of Nazism during the 1930s, as too many in Germany fooled themselves into complacency thinking the ideology of evil would not succeed.

The Dishwasher

Stéphane Larue's first novel, The Dishwasher, was a bestseller in its original French version. The principal character is a CEGEP student and artist who gambles away any money he can borrow or earn. He is forced to take a job as a dishwasher in one of Montreal's high-end restaurants to earn enough to settle his debts. The scenes of restaurant work capture the horrors of being the low man on the work ladder. Larue recounts his story in an energetic style that will
keep the reader emotionally vested in the life of The Dishwasher.
Stéphane Larue has worked in the restaurant industry for the past 15 years. The Dishwasher is his first book. (Audrey Beauchemin/Radio-Canada)

The Mountain Master Of Sha Tin

In his 12th Ava Lee novel, The Mountain Master Of Sha Tin, Ian Hamilton once again succeeds in weaving a tale that will keep the reader engrossed from the first page to the last. Ava Lee is in Shanghai to visit Xu, a triad mountain master who is in the hospital suffering from meningitis. Her antagonist, Sammy Wing, who in an earlier novel tried to have Ava killed, makes a move on Xu's territory, believing he is too ill to defend himself. It falls to Ava to protect Xu's interests. Her negotiating skills are pushed to the limit when Wing captures and maims six members of her gang.
(House of Anansi Press)

Frying Plantain

Frying Plantain is the debut novel by Zalika Reid-Benta. Set in Little Jamaica, Toronto's Eglinton West neighbourhood, the book is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Kara Davis. Kara has to navigate her way through the old-country demands of her grandmother and mother while at the same time swimming in the adolescent sea of her school in Canada. Reid-Benta has a unique voice and in Kara, creates a character who will capture the hearts of the reader.

The Darwin Affair

Tim Mason has written an absorbing mystery in his first novel, The Darwin Affair. The setting is London in 1860 and Detective-Inspector Charles Field is called upon to investigate an attempt on the life of Queen Victoria. Field was a real person and served as the model for Dickens's Inspector Bucket in Bleak House. This novel will appeal to mystery lovers, lovers of Dickens novels and those who enjoy reading about the Victorian era. In other words, a literary trifecta. One of the many delightful scenes in the novel has Field questioning Karl Marx as they ride an omnibus.

About the Author

Richard King

CBC Homerun Book Columnist

Richard King is a book columnist on CBC Homerun. He is an author, broadcaster and former co-owner of Paragraphe Bookstore in Montreal. You can hear Richard on Homerun, on CBC Radio One (88.5 FM), once a month on Wednesday afternoons starting at 3 p.m.

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