Wallflowers

Eliza Robertson. Bloomsbury, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-62040-815-5
In Robertson's debut collection, her moody homeland of Vancouver Island and the nature of human independence set a tone of poetic grace. The impressive opener "Who Will Water the Wallflowers" follows a girl cat-sitting for the neighbors as flood waters force her, with the pet nestled in her housecoat, to scale the rooftops to safety. The brief but emotionally crushing "L'Etranger" finds a young female scholar in southern France contending with an irksome Ukrainian roommate until the woman reveals devastating news and abandons the home. The epistolary "Roadnotes," told in one-sided missives from sibling to sibling, is a subtle meditation on family and memory. "Sea Life" deftly illustrates the tragic and beautiful way humanity intervenes for a husband and wife at their beach community, even at the most inconvenient of times. In spots, Robertson's writing may be too precious and overly embellished—"Thoughts, Hints and Anecdotes..." is an interlinked barrage of artfully crafted, female-focused snippets of household tips, advice, observant mannerisms, and curious incidents. Overall, however, the collection shimmers with lush imagery as in the lovely closing story (winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize) set in British Columbia, where brother and sister triathletes find common ground while conditioning their bodies, but are unprepared for a tragic end result. Through the varying perspectives of loners, lovers, and misfits, Robertson distinguishes herself as a uniquely talented writer to watch. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/2014
Release date: 09/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-14-319140-7
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