by Antonia Banyard
Three friends are driving from Vancouver to Nelson, BC, to commemorate the death of a friend. For me, this is a premise that would normally not raise excitement. But very soon I am swept up by the vivid characterizations of the story’s main characters: Siobhan, Lance and Evan. Banyard draws them in loving detail and makes the reader care for them deeply. Each of them, though adults, has unfinished business. Ten years before, their “rite of passage” was interrupted, and this trip to Nelson may be their last chance to sort things out. Lance, Evan and Siobhan—each of them is vulnerable and flawed, yet each just on the cusp of achieving a greater and more loving maturity.
Lance is my favourite character: in a state of emotional somnolence as the novel opens, wishing a UFO would land in his backyard and whisk him away. He is a dreamer, naïve, a procrastinator. He has the heart of a monk and an explorer all at once. Yet as the story unfolds, it is probably he who makes the greatest emotional journey.
Banyard has a wonderful grasp of emotional subtlety, paying careful attention to a small gesture or unspoken word. It is worth mentioning that two out of her three main characters are male, yet Banyard, effortlessly, it seems, writes in a cross-gender voice.
There is a gentle, seductive rhythm to this work, echoing perhaps the essence of the place she writes about. The writing is precise, yet poetic and, Banyard succeeds brilliantly in capturing the unique quality of the Kootenays and the people who live here.
An enchanting read.