"A Beauty" by Connie Gault
Who Should Read This: CanLit fans, readers who like books that are about character-driven.
In a small community of Swedes in the prairies of Saskatchewan lives a young Finnish woman named Elena Huhtala. It’s the 1930’s and the drought has hit the village of Trevna, and all of the surrounding areas, hard. Elena has always lived with her father, her mother deceased since Elena was small, but now he has disappeared, taking with him his rifle and leaving a note. At eighteen-years-old, Elena is all alone.
Then a stranger shows up at a country dance in his Lincoln Roadster, mysterious and catching the eyes of all the young women. Elena needs only one dance before she jumps in his car and leaves the town behind. As they travel through the prairie towns, unsure of where they are headed, they meet an incredible group of people, all struggling to make their own way through the difficult times. But then Elena meets a young girl named Ruth and both of their paths are changed forever.
A Beauty, by Connie Gault, is a beautiful novel about the lives of everyday people forever changed by the appearance of one captivating woman.
I wanted to read this novel because it instantly jumped out at me as being in the same vein as Cool Water by Dianne Warren. Everyday people, simple surroundings, complicated lives - I was instantly reminded of that book when I saw this one and that is why I picked it up. And the comparison was worth it, if you enjoyed Cool Water, you will enjoy A Beauty.
The writing in the book is beautiful, rich in description, transporting you to another place and time. As a reader, you sit and observe a host of people, investing yourself in the characters, no matter how long or short you’re in their lives. This was the strength of the book for me, the writing of these people who aren’t the main characters but give life to the setting and the story.
In contrast, I found the story of Elena to be weaker. I just couldn’t connect with her the way I did with the other characters. Was it just me? I’m curious to find out from others who have read the book. For me, she was mostly a good mechanism to take us on this journey through small-town Saskatchewan and meet these other fascinating characters. Her story just didn’t draw me in as well as I was drawn into theirs.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I may have felt that some parts were stronger than others, but the strong parts make up for the weak parts and thus, this is a good book. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to others looking for CanLit, especially people who enjoy books about this part of our beautiful country.
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