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For the Love of Reading

Fault Lines read in April 2010


The members of our book club chose to read "Fault Lines" by Canadian born author, Nancy Houston. Her command of English and French is phenomenal. Ms Houston resides in Paris where she has made her home for many years. She is well-known for her provocative essays, feminine writings, as well as her novels that she translates into English. The critics and supporters of her style and subject matter cannot ignore the fact that she has won three awards (Femina 2006, Orange Prize Shortlist 2006 and the Governor General Award for fiction 2006) for the reason that her novel, Fault Lines, deserves such praise.

Our discussion was engaging because this WWII novel focused our attention to something other than battles and concentration camps. As this family saga unfolds, it is told from the perspective of the 6-year-old children in multi-generations. It begins in 2004 backwards to 1945. We spoke about the author's writing style and questioned whether or not the voices of the children were believable. The writing style was not lyrical and was very matter of fact. We all agreed that the character of G.G. was one of the more interesting personalities. The traits and behaviours of the other characters' demonstrated how conflicts affect, them, to varying degrees. We had empathy for this family and speculated about the character of Sol as to whether or not he was a prodigy of the Nazis? Did Ms. Houston's political opinions dominate this story?

This novel was attention grabbing overall and as we finished the story we learned the fascinating historical knowledge that children were given away to German families to raise as their own. After the war approximately 25,000 of the 250,000 children were returned to their family of origin. The themes of guilt, love, and loyalty are handled well. It is interesting to note that North American publishers were reticent to publish this novel because of the graphic nature of the beginning of the book and Sol's voice. Our overall rating for this book is 3.47.

This author's experiences in her early life influences her writing. Ms. Houston was born in Calgary, Alberta. At the age of 6 she was relocated to Germany with her new step-mother and became immersed in this new culture and country. It was during her 2nd year of university, at the age of 21 that she continued her studies in Paris, France and, to this day, has never left. Her areas of study had their emphasis in linguistics and psychoanalysis. During an interview she remarked: "I felt I could survive better with no associations...where I could make myself over." Over years and many personas she has pursued interests in left wing movements, the woman's movement and as a true Parisian intellectual, while elegant, she chews gum. She now regrets the fact that she marched in support of Ho Chi Mein.

Candice D. / Renfrew Ontario


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