By Joan Thomas
“The Opening Sky is a marvel. In rich, meticulously woven prose, Joan Thomas confronts the painful paradoxes at the heart of a family, and reports back on both the darkness and the light. This is a contemporary narrative, fully-wired with eco-anxiety and intergenerational strife, yet somehow a sense of the mythic pervades the tale. Thomas charts the labyrinthine intricacies of marriage and parenthood as, together and separately, the Glasgow-Phimisters endure the loss of the ‘old consolations’ and struggle toward something new. I loved this book. It thrilled me with its fierce portrayal of how we strive and fail and sometimes even manage to love.”
-Alissa York, Author of Fauna
Commonwealth Book Prize-winner Joan Thomas’s new novel is that ever-sought-after thing: a novel of ideas with a beating heart, combining echoes of Franzen’s Freedom and McEwan’s Atonement.
The novel opens on a summer night when four children, including eleven-year-old Sylvie, go missing at an artist’s cottage, right under the noses of their distracted parents. Though the events leading up to that day are revealed gradually, they shape every relationship in the decade that follows.
Ten years later, Sylvie is a smart and political 19 year-old, fiercely independent, sensitive to hypocrisy, crazy in love with her childhood playmate, Noah, and grounded by both a sure sense of the planet’s impending doom, and by a blinding disdain for her mother Liz, a magnetic but restless woman prone to petty rivalries, but also free of the moralism that seems to tangle up everyone around her.
But when life throws an unexpected wrench into their respective plans, old secrets and repressed grievances rise to the surface, allowing for new possibilities, and past scores to settle in unexpected ways.
The Opening Sky is clear-eyed about the forces of lust and righteousness of all sorts, and how they can twist us off the path we thought we were following.
“The Opening Sky is a sharply observed, unflinching portrait of the middle class in the 21st century. A beautiful, harrowing book.”
-Don Gillmor, author of Mount Pleasant
“It’s an age-old tale – accidental pregnancy; family at the point of crisis – but one made fresh through Thomas’s evocative prose and the uncanny uniqueness of her lens.”
–Globe and Mail
“Thomas is often compared to Carol Shields, Meg Wolitzer and Jonathan Franzen, but really slips into a category by herself here…Thomas herself takes narrative risks with The Opening Sky, and offers no typical solutions. But these risks are the most beautiful; they are the risks worth taking. This is a book worth reading.”
–The Winnipeg Free Press
McClelland and Stewart, Canada, August 2014
McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award (2015)
Finalist for the 2014 Governor General’s Award for Fiction
A CBC Best Book of 2014