Described as a cross between a traditional book club and a university course without exams, this popular program is in-person and online for the 2023-24 season! This registration option is for the Tuesday ONLINE subscription option only.
A link will be sent to subscribers between 7:00 and 7:30 pm on the day of the lecture. The links to the lectures will be accessible from their launch date until August 31, 2024.
Other subscription options are available here: https://www.heliconianclub.org/lls2324.html
An unforgettable memoir about a family secret revealed by a DNA test, the lessons learned in its aftermath, and the indelible power of love.
Three months after Kyo Maclear ’s father dies in December 2018, she gets the results of a DNA test showing that she and the father who raised her are not biologically related. Suddenly, Maclear becomes a detective in her own life, unravelling a family mystery piece by piece, and assembling the story of her biological father. Along the way, larger questions arise: what exactly is kinship? And what does it mean to be a family?
Thoughtful in its reflections on race and lineage, unflinching in its insights on grief and loyalty, Unearthing is a captivating and propulsive story of inheritance that goes beyond heredity.
What gets planted, and what gets buried? What role does storytelling play in unearthing the past and making sense of a life? Can the humble act of tending a garden provide common ground for an inquisitive daughter and her complicated mother? As it seeks to answer these questions, Unearthing bursts with the very love it seeks to understand.
OCTOBER 24 – Karin Wells: More Than a Footnote. Canadian Women You Should Know.
There are women throughout Canada's history who when faced with a locked door, have looked for a key — or a battering ram. Award-winning writer Karin Wells tells the stories of women like the fierce and iconoclastic Mina Benson Hubbard, who finished the mission to map northern Labrador that had killed her explorer husband, and Vera Peters, MD, who revolutionized treatments for Hodgkins lymphoma and breast cancer.
Or the painter Paraskeva Clark, child of the Bolshevik Revolution, who rattled staid Toronto when she took Norman Bethune as a lover and spoke out for art as a tool of social change. And have you heard of Charlotte Small, a Métis woman who canoed and trekked 42,000 km — more than three times further than the American explorers Lewis and Clark — and had five babies along the way?
Some were outrageous, some were unassuming, most were not polite, but they all ignored the voices that said women could not paddle a canoe, program a computer, understand the universe, or cure a disease. They lived big lives—often at great cost — and they made a difference. (From Second Story Press)
NOVEMBER 21 - Shelly Sanders: Daughters of the Occupation
Based on a true story, this powerful novel is set in Latvia ’s capital during the horrific Rumbula massacre when 30,000 Jews were slaughtered over two days in 1941
When Miriam and her family are rounded up and forced to live in the Jewish ghetto in Riga, Miriam chooses to give up her children to the care of a Gentile friend who will hide them. A few weeks later, Miriam, along with thousands of other Jews, is marched to the execution pits in the Rumbula forest. Incredibly, she manages to escape the carnage when night falls. Through a series of dramatic events, she finds sanctuary in the countryside, managing to hide for three years and survive the war. Consumed by guilt, she is finally reunited with her daughter. But she has lost her son.
Thirty-five years later, Miriam ’s granddaughter, Sarah, is living in Chicago with her family. Seeking to understand her maternal family history, Sarah tries desperately to ferret out Miriam ’s secret. Miriam does not want to revisit the past, but through persistence Sarah eventually finds out enough to impel her to travel to Riga to search for her uncle. But it is the height of the Cold War and Riga is under Soviet control. Now Sarah ’s quest for the truth may threaten her freedom when she comes face to face with the KGB.
Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, Demon Copperhead is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father ’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. Relayed in his own unsparing voice, Demon braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favour of cities.
Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens ’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can ’t imagine leaving behind.
Cyril Rowntree migrates to Toronto from Jamaica in 2012. Managing a precarious balance of work and university he begins to navigate his way through the implications of being racialized in his challenging new land.
A chance encounter with a panhandler named Patricia leads Cyril to a suitcase full of photographs and letters dating back to the early 1920s. Cyril is drawn into the letters and their story of a white mother ’s struggle with the need to give up her mixed race baby, Edward. Abandoned by his own white father as a small child, Cyril ’s keen intuition triggers a strong connection and he begins to look for the rest of Edward ’s story.
As he searches, Cyril unearths fragments of Edward ’s itinerant life as he crisscrossed the country. Along the way, he discovers hidden pieces of Canada ’s Black history and gains the confidence to take on his new world.
In an isolated outport on Newfoundland ’s northern coastline, Abe Strapp is about to marry the daughter of a rival merchant to cement his hold on the shore when the Widow Caines arrives to throw the wedding and Abe ’s plans into chaos.
That ruthless act of sabotage is the opening salvo in a battle between the man and woman who own Mockbeggar ’s largest mercantile firms, each fighting for the scarce resources of the north Atlantic fishery, each seeking a measure of revenge on the person they despise most in the world. As their unshakeable animosity spirals further each year into vendettas and violence, the community is increasingly divided and even the innocents in Mockbeggar find themselves forced to take sides, with devastating consequences.
Through merciless seasons of uncertainty and want, through predatory storms and pandemics and marauding privateers, it is the human heart that reveals itself to be the most formidable and unpredictable adversary for each person drawn, inevitably and helplessly, into that endless feud.
Compulsively readable and uncompromising, The Adversary is a masterful evocation of a lost time, and a shadowed mirror to our modern politics of grievance and retribution.
An exquisitely crafted novel, piercing in its urgency and breathtaking in its intimacy, about the devastating experience of addiction.
In his downtown Toronto condo, Dr. Chen awakens to the sound of streetcars below, but it is not the early morning traffic that keeps him from sleep. News banners run across his phone: Fentanyl Crisis; Toxic Drug Supply; Record Number of Deaths. From behind the headlines, on the same screen, glow the faces of his patients, the faces of the what-ifs: What if he had done more, or less? Or something different? Would they still be alive?
Claire is a violinist; she feels at one with her music, taking flight in its melody, free in its movement. But now she rises and falls with the opioids in her system, becoming increasingly reckless. After two overdoses in twenty-four hours, she sits in the blue light of her computer, searching a notice board for recommendations: my doctor saved my life; my doctor is just another dealer. And then another message catches her attention, about Chen ’s clinic: be a guinea pig—why not get paid to take it?
When Claire ’s life intersects with Chen ’s, the doctor is drawn ever more deeply into the complexities of the doctor-patient relationship, the implication and meaning of his intention to treat. Chen must confront just how far he would go to save a life.
Combining the depth of his experience as a physician with the brilliance of his literary talent, Vincent Lam creates a world electric in its precision, radiant in its detail. On the Ravine is a gripping novel of profound emotional force, a soaring achievement from a singular voice in Canadian fiction.
May 21 – Andre Narbonne: Lucien and Olivia
Lucien and Olivia is a comic statement on the beautiful waywardness of life. Built on scenes of discovery and error, the novel satirizes the transactional view of human relations that has elbowed its way into our lives by way of contemporary political discourse. The novel is set in the 1980s before cell phones, personal computers, and Facebook “likes.” Lucien is a marine engineer on a Canadian tanker. While on one-month leave in Halifax, he meets Olivia, a brilliant philosophy student at Dalhousie University, who takes an immediate dislike to him.
What begins as mutual antipathy changes when they discover how compatible their oddities are. Charged by Olivia not to say he loves her, Lucien returns to sea and to a job characterized by its plodding predictability. Here he discovers that not everything in his life is foreseeable, including his feelings for Olivia. The couple try to navigate love and a healthy relationship — despite how much the odds are stacked up against them. This is a fascinating and different work of fiction.