August 25, 2011

Elizabeth Hay’s ‘Alone in the Classroom’

Have you ever read a novel that moves you so much you can’t decide if you want to smile or cry?

Elizabeth Hay’s most recent novel – Alone in the Classroom – is a tender and honest tale that takes place across three generations. It highlights issues that most people can relate to, including love, hate and jealousy. More importantly, the novel teaches readers that the actions we take will always affect the next generation.

A lovely shot of Elizabeth Hay. Memorize the face, people. Memorize the face.

About the novel…
Beginning in a small prairie school in 1929, a young schoolteacher – Connie Flood – attempts to help a struggling student. Observing them and darkening their lives is the principal, Parley Burns, whose strange behaviour culminates in an attack so disturbing its repercussions continue to the present day.

Connie’s niece, Anne, tells the story. Impelled by curiosity about her dynamic, adventurous aunt and her more conventional mother, she revisits Connie’s past and her mother’s broken childhood. In the process, she unravels the enigma of Parley Burns and the mysterious (and unrelated) deaths of two young girls.

Alone in the Classroom is meant to be read slowly. It is filled with detailed and often poetic language that makes settings, seasons and characters come alive. Throughout the novel, there are also references to classic literature – such as Tess of the D’Ubervilles and Pride & Prejudice – which make it even easier to picture events and people the way Hay wanted them to be seen.

If Alone in the Classroom is your first experience with a novel by Hay, you won’t be disappointed. The plot is both realistic and elaborate, a format that keeps the reader interested until the final pages.

About the author…
Elizabeth Hay is a Canadian novelist and short story writer. She has been a nominee for the Governor General's Award twice – for Small Change in 1997 and for Garbo Laughs in 2003 – and won the Giller Prize for her 2007 novel Late Nights on Air. In 2002, she received the Marian Engel Award, presented by the Writers' Trust of Canada to an established female writer for her body of work — including novels, short fiction, and creative non-fiction.
Come to her presentation at THIN AIR 2011 and learn more about this famous author…

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