Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Natural Order by Brian Francis

I'm continuing to read from the 2012 Evergreen list and hope to finish at least another book from the list before the voting period ends on October 30.

Natural Order is the second novel by Brian Francis, whose first novel Fruit was a Canada Reads runner-up. In this novel, an elderly woman Joyce looks back on episodes from her life. She sees how her homophobia and that of others had devastated people she had loved. The narrator is unreliable and the story jumps among several time periods, but somehow it all works and makes for a very readable and moving story.

This novel provides a thoughtful examination of both the process of aging and the changing views of homosexuality over the past half-century in Canada. It features vividly drawn characters and a good amount of small-town-Ontario humour. When Fern says, in reply to Joyce's question about an upcoming potluck lunch, "I'm a woman of the United Church of Canada. I can make a salmon loaf standing on my head in thirty seconds," I could immediately picture a few women of my own acquaintance!

Natural Order is my favourite of the six Evergreen books I've read so far, and I look forward to reading more from this very skilled writer.

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