Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

Spoiler-free summary:
Fay McLeod, a folklorist studying mermaids, wakes up one morning to quite simply realize that she does not love her partner of three years. Tom Avery, a late-night radio host who was raised by 27 mothers, has been married and divorced three times. Both, despite their infinite connections to the city, are alone, drifting through the familiar streets of Winnipeg, surrounded by a complex web of acquaintances and memories. Carol ShieldsThe Republic of Love chronicles their tumultuous paths toward love and happiness, which may or may not go hand in hand.


I am so surprised (and somewhat ashamed) that I had not heard of Carol Shields or The Republic of Love before receiving this ARC from Open Road Media. Apparently a movie was made based on the book and Shields won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Stone Diaries. After beginning the novel, it really did not come as a shock to learn that Shields was such a revered writer. This book definitely stands out from other books I've reviewed. It is polished, amazing, beautiful, astounding - I could go on and on. I loved this book.

This novel, I've decided, is what I will hand out when and if people ask me, "What is love?" Love is a wordless, messy, nonsensical thing that, somehow, Carol Shields has been able to describe in a beautiful, witty novel. How? I keep asking myself, "how?" I want to pass this novel out to my friends, my family, my ex-boyfriends, everyone, with the hope that they will understand me better when they're finished.

It's sweet and romantic, but it is also devastating and disturbing. Shields does not sugar coat things that we are accustomed to being sugary sweet. People do things in this novel that make no sense and they hurt one another and it's fabulous because it's true. Shields spends just as much time describing the dark underbelly of love as she does describing the beauty and happiness of it. I liked that. A lot.

I loved the language - the novel is written in beautiful, rhythmic prose. Moments of complete incomprehension and unhappiness are described with succinct grace. Tom and Fay both had their own clearly defined voice, which I appreciated.

Please, read this novel.

Buy The Republic of Love in ebook format from Amazon today.

Photos: Open Road Media

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