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Home Schooling by Carol Windley
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Home Schooling (edition 2006)

by Carol Windley

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503233,859 (3.09)5
Member:jmiedema
Title:Home Schooling
Authors:Carol Windley
Info:Cormorant Books Inc. (2006), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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Home Schooling by Carol Windley

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Missing people overshadow the lives of young women in Windley’s collection of eight short stories, nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2006. Saffi notices things but thinks it a curse after she spots a missing boy in her neighbour’s basement. Annabel’s father strives to reopen his private school after a student drowns, but Annabel dreams of escaping the island with her math tutor. Nadia tries to please everyone after her mother leaves her father the woodcarver for a logging mogul. Lydia’s grandmother survives the horrible death of her family, but the suffering is passed across generations. Alex secretly wishes for all that her friend Desiree abandons: her husband, her child, and her home. Windley effectively contrasts the complex and often dark inner lives of the characters and their family struggles against the undeveloped and beautiful backdrop of rural Vancouver Island.

http://johnmiedema.ca/2007/09/25/home-schooling-by-carol-windley-book-review/ ( )
  jmiedema | May 15, 2008 |
I found these short stories quite appealing. I liked the Western coast setting she put them in, the unlikeness of many unions and relationships she presented, the unfinished plots, even though some stories, like Reading Elvis, seemed a bit too unfinished to me. Although people who stay together in her stories sometimes seem like strange bedfellows, life is exactly as unpredictable as she shows it to be. Things seem like big tragedies, but then they just prove nothing larger than life, and things somehow work out. I liked the subtlety of style.

My favourite story was The Joy of Life, perhaps because it seemed to me to have been inspired by Matisse painting of the same title. I really like the combination of art and literature, and this story seems a perfect example of it.
Windley says that Sand and Frost was the most difficult for her to write, and I guess I can see why it might have been challenging for her, apart from weaving of two stories- those of Lydia and her grandmother. It’s a complex story. I think that she wanted to say many things- that everyone has some sort of tragedy to grapple with, people in trauma don’t remember the events that they went through; they are too traumatic, so they eliminate or change their memories, people have to come to terms with their own pasts, tragedies, and people with similar pasts and experiences tend to naturally gravitate towards each other.
I suppose she also wanted to show how genes work in nature, and how certain traits run in families. Lydia is obsessive compulsive, depressive and a bit on the weird side like her great grandfather. She takes biology courses, presumably to learn more about herself and about her family.
I think Windley did very well and packed quite a few issues into this short story.
I didn’t especially like Children’s Games. I think that I was put off by a bad case of research- Polish city info and wrong case declension. The city named in the story happens to be the city I was born and raised in, and it definitely is not ‘California of Poland’. It sounded so fake that I couldn’t help feeling that the rest of the story was equally fake, which it necessarily is, of course, but do your research woman before you write something! I usually do a wonderful job of suspending my belief, but I couldn’t in this case, and it just spoiled that story for me.
On the whole, though, I liked the collection, and I may read some more by her. ( )
  Niecierpek | Dec 27, 2007 |
I didn't enjoy Home Schooling as much as I had expected. Well-written, certainly, and no wonder that the Giller Prize folks spotted it, but the subject matter of the first story (child abduction and murder) was hard for me to take and probably put me off the rest of the book. ( )
  anglofille | May 25, 2007 |
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The Giller Prize-nominated Home Schooling marks the American debut of a masterful, award-winning storyteller. Set against the moody landscape of Vancouver Island and the thrumming cities of the Pacific Northwest, Carol Windley's stories uncover the hidden freight of families: in the title story, two sisters contend with their idealistic father's sudden inability to provide for their family, and with their attraction to the same boy; in "What Saffi Knows,' a mother returns to a moment in her past when she held the knowledge that might have saved another child, but not the language with which to convey it; and in "Family in Black," a young woman's world is permanently changed when her mother abandons her father for a man who embodies everything her mother taught her to despise. Families dissolve and reform in new, startling configurations: ghosts appear, the past intrudes and overwhelms the present, familiar terrain takes on a hostile aspect, and happiness depends on unlikely alliances. With the invisibly perfect craftsmanship of Alice Munro, and the flesh-and-blood sense of place of Annie Proulx, Windley carves out territory all her own in these stories, each one a richly imagined world that will stay with readers for a long time. --Amazon.… (more)

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