Miriam Toews is a Canadian author I have been following for about a decade. She has published several novels in that time, and I have read each of them. I discovered she had published All My Puny Sorrows so I picked it up for the challenge.
The book is about a family. The younger sister is the narrator of the novel, and her older sister, Elfie, is a world renowned pianist. She is also suicidal. In the book, it is revealed that her father also killed himself. Elfie struggles throughout the book with being alive, and her sister, Yolandi, tries to convince her to live. The mother is also very present in the book, as are a number of other family characters.
Yolandi is in her 40s and in the midst of her second divorce. She has two kids, and is generally pretty down about her existence. She is a writer. A lot of the book is Yolandi going back and forth from Toronto to Winnepeg to see her sister.
Elfie asks Yolandi to take her to Switzerland for euthanasia. I’ll leave it at that!
I haven’t looked into it, but I suspect that Toews sister may have died or killed herself. That is the only explanation I can think of that would explain this novel to me as far as premise.
There are moments of brilliance and wit in this novel, but I didn’t really get a lot out of it. I felt that there were loose ends that did not get tied up, and that left me with questions about other characters and subplots. I may also be hungover from Looking for Alaska and in need of a book that isn’t about a woman desperate to die.
It was a good read, but not the best of Toews. If you are inspired to read her from learning about her in this post, I’d recommend The flying Troutman.
My rating: 3.0/5