Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Featured Fiction: The Violets of Usambara by Mary Soderstrom

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Featured Fiction: The Violets of Usambara by Mary Soderstrom

Cormorant Books

Bujumbura, Burundi is one of the last places you would expect to find Thomas Brossard. Once a powerful cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government, Thomas never had a particular interest in the continent of Africa and the concerns it represented. That was his wife Louise’s domain. But, after an embarrassing election loss, Thomas will do just about anything to regain political power and improve his wife’s estimation of him.

Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, the Brossards didn’t have much to worry about; they raised a prosperous Québécois family, as might be expected of a successful cabinet minister. But, with Thomas’s electoral defeat, the world outside their home becomes less inviting. After Thomas’s ill-fated run for mayor of Montreal leaves him a failure, he attempts to overcome his lack of success with the help of Louise, who finds a Catholic charity in need of a political figure to investigate their projects in Africa.When Thomas disappears in war-stricken Burundi on his fact-finding mission, Louise becomes trapped inside their house in Montreal by her own fears; she is left to fret about her continually blurring past, piecing together how she has reached this sudden point of loneliness and isolation.

In a story spanning decades, the past peeks through the seams and enriches the novel with a deep history of Quebec’s wealthy and political classes. Mary Soderstrom’s story thrums with tension and excitement, but also reaches deep into literary tradition, illuminating character and emotion through an engaging plot.

Mary Soderstrom was born and raised on the west coast of the United States, but moved to Montreal as a young woman. She is the author of nine previous works, including the Books in Canada First Novel Award finalist, The Descent of Andrew McPherson. She currently lives in Montreal with her husband.

From the catalogue. Visit the Cormorant Books website to read an excerpt from The Violets of Usambara and to download a readers guide.