In 19 years, you haven’t forgotten to wish me a Happy Canada Day. And you’ve been especially attentive since November 2016, likely hoping the immigration clerks here will put some gold stars on that imaginary citizenship application of yours!

They should give you extra credit for your devotion to Linwood Barclay’s books. I wasn’t expecting you to go full-on-interlibrary-loan and read them in such a burst! You are already a more loyal fan than I am. But I’m glad you enjoyed them. There’s a copy of The Parting Shot heading my way now. And I won’t have to avoid spoilers when I write to you about it!

Finally I’ve read Robb Foreman Dew’s The Evidence Before Her and you were so right: I loved it start-‘til-stop. So rich, yet simple: from Marjoie and Lily’s lemon meringue pie picnic at the lighthouse to the war and the influenza epidemic. Is Washburn, Ohio a real town: is it near Cincinnati?

Maybe I’d rather not know: I’d rather pretend it’s real.

And what a great way of describing her experience of the world, “the calamity of never being able to explain herself”. All of us misfits can relate. And Agnes’ remark, when she says that she’s not ready for marriage – that she’s not a jar of peaches to be snapped up from the shelf – perfect! Her straightforward tone and stalwart feminism reminded me of Valerie Martin’s Property, another we both enjoyed. (I wonder if she and Margaret Atwood are still friends.)

The Dew novel was one of the first books you recommended to me and it sure took me a long time to get to it. Somehow I had the idea it was a tragic story, but it was ultimately hopeful. (Speaking of, I’ve gotten to Killers of the Flower Moon more quickly: more on that next time.) Now I’m rereading Amy and Isabelle, which was new in 1999, when we first started chatting.

It’s every bit as good as I remember, and I’m just going to keep reading, straight through the sequel to Olive K. I know how you loved Olive and I will read the sequel and tell you all about it. Everyone seems to say good things.

I’ll write again later this month and a couple more times before the summer is through: you’ve recommended so many good books to me over the years, and I’m reading some of the ones I’ve missed along the way. Sitting on the porch and in some parks: breathing deeply, feeling grateful. There are a couple of other new books I know you will want to hear about too. Soon!


My friend, Barbara – librarian and booklover – died shortly after Christmas. We met via a listserv dedicated to Canadian literature, a serious venture that inspired us to take our enthusiasm offline, where we exchanged proper letters – mostly about books and cats – for about 19 years. In my mind, our bookish conversation is ongoing.