The Essex Serpent reveals that Victorian women were more interesting than we knew

Featuring memorable characters and a plot-driven story that explores themes of friendship, sexuality, and faith, this book is ripe for cottage consumption

Set in the late 1800s, The Essex Serpent tells the surprising story of recently widowed Cora Seaborne. She speaks plainly, prefers men’s clothing, and is obsessed with paleontology.

But Cora is not so distraught as one might expect when her husband dies of a tragic illness. In fact, she seems to be having a right jolly old time with her companion Martha and her son Francis following the funeral. Turns out her husband was abusive. She’s delighted to be free of his influence.

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Radiant Shimmering Light sparkles with originality

Sarah Selecky’s fizzy novel about what it’s like to be a woman now is the kind of book you read in one big gulp — and then share with five friends

If you pack this book in your tote for a long weekend spent by a lake, don’t be surprised to find you’re completely ignoring your friends. The story of Lilian Quick’s enlightenment amidst the world of personal development in Manhattan demands you keep reading ’til it’s done.

A likeable but frustrating main character, Lilian is a pet portraitist and seer of animal auras. She struggles to make rent in Toronto, but just as things are looking up thanks to celebrity endorsement by the fictional queen of Canadian lit, Nana Boondahl, Lilian finds herself with a job offer to in New York.

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Marrow Thieves cover

The Marrow Thieves is a worthy read for all ages

This fast-moving, dystopian novel with Indigenous protagonists is the book every Canadian should read this year, a fact established on CBC Canada Reads — even though the book didn’t win

The Marrow Thieves didn’t win this year’s CBC Canada Reads debates, but I believe it should have. I was thoroughly convinced by Jully Black’s defense of the book on the annual book battle, and reading it was a confirmation that it’s a timely and important contribution to Canadian culture right now.

Telling the story of group of Indigenous nomads who are on the run in a future society beset by climate change, The Marrow Thieves creates a dystopian world in which people have lost the ability to dream and Indigenous people are hunted for their bone marrow because it’s believed to be the remedy.

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