This summer, I’ve been reading books that are outstanding, one after another, I’ve read books that are filled with writing that is effortless and characters that I’ll never forget. I can another great book to the collection of summer reading, Jane Urquhart’s, “Sanctuary Line“. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never read Jane Urquhart before, she’s quite famous for her award-winning novels, “The Underpainter” and “The Stone Carvers“.
On the shores of Lake Erie, there lies a farm that use to hold a family that appeared to have it all together, but what lies underneath is what you’ll be reading about when you pick up Jane Urquhart’s newest novel. We first meet Liz, the narrator of this fictional novel. She names herself the “summer cousin” because she and her Mother hop in the car everything summer and drive from their home in Toronto to Lake Erie to spend time with her Aunt, Uncle and three cousins. She can be compared to the beautiful monarch butterflies that use to migrate to the farm every summer as well and who get mentioned continuously throughout this story. Now the family has left the farm (in one way or another) and Liz lives alone on the farm surrounded with old memories. A great example of the kind of writing you’ll be reading is provided in the excerpt below:
In August the Monarchs rise against blue lake water of the glass of a storm door, and surf often feathers the face of the wall clock. I never noticed these reflections when I was in my teens and the house was merely a place one entered unwillingly after the action of the day was finished. But all this confusion, this uncertain, changing imagery is mine now. There is no on else who needs it.
Liz is a lonely women who tells the story of her family and the three dysfunctional relationships that came out all those summer visits. Her Uncle Stanley, an interesting man who has a lot of stories to share, stories about lightkeepers and love. There is a distinctive amount of loathing when her Uncle is described, because he disappeared 20 years ago, leaving a family that was broken and in need of his presence. Liz, who doesn’t really remember her father who passed away when she was young, always looked up to Stanley and when he left, it’s clear that a piece of her was devastated, not only because she hates that he went away, but she hates how badly it upsets her closest cousin Mandy.
Mandy is a prominent character in this novel, she is the closest thing to a sister that Liz ever had and many summers were spent playing monopoly, swimming and visiting the butterfly tree. As the years went on, Mandy made the decision to join the army and travel to Afghanistan, this resulted in her losing her life. When the story starts we are at Mandy’s funeral where Liz sits shocked and devastated to lose her closest friend and cousin. Her death causes Liz to feel more lonely than ever.
By living in the old farm-house, it conjures up old memories of laughter, deceit and love. Liz takes us back to a time when things seemed easier, but now as an adult, she realizes that they weren’t easy at all. She also learns that the decisions and events that took place all those years ago, have shaped her family’s future. The story is impeccable and Jane Urquhart is clearly a real talent. I couldn’t put this book down and I’m excited to get my hands of some of her other novels.
I’d highly recommend hopping in your cars, jumping on your bikes or putting on your running sneakers to go pick up this amazing book on Tuesday August 31st.