I am blown away by the breath, depth, and marvelous stories of Canadian writers. And this book by Miriam Toews is no exception. She writes with wit and warmth. She also acutely demonstrates the role of humor when rendering the unbearable somehow tolerable.
The story is fast-paced, vivid, perceptive, and hilarious. Her characters are deeply authentic and wonderful. They felt close to me as I was reading the story.
The story opens as the sun rises on the quiet June morning in 2009. August Epp is sitting in a haystack in a barn writing as quickly as possible. Whey is she writing so fast? Why is he all alone in a haystack? Why is he hiding?
These are all questions that puzzled me at first. I guess after a while, I learn he is recording a secret conversation. August, like the eight women who are speaking, are all Mennonites.
As I read the story, the reason for the secret conversation becomes more obvious. They had 48 hours to make a life-altering choice for all the women and children in the colony. I also leaned about the devastating events that led to this moment.
This is a wonderful story! I think its Towes’ best work to date. It showcases the timeless universe of thinking and feeling about women and men in our world today.