The Republic of Love
Complications beset two shell-shocked
veterans of the wars of the heart - Fay, a folklorist
whose passion for mermaids has kept her from focusing
on any one man. And right across the street there’s Tom,
a popular radio talk-show host who has focused a little
too intently, having married and divorced three times.
Only Carol Shields could describe so adroitly this couple
who fall in love as thoroughly and satisfyingly as any
Victorian couple, and the modern complications that beset
them in this touching and ironic book.
The Republic of Love was made into a movie
of the same name by Deepa Mehta in 2004.
Buy the Book
here to order.
A touching, elegantly funny, luscious
piece of fiction."
- The New York
Times Book Review
Superb.... It takes courage for
a serious literary novelist to toast love with the exuberance
Shields does here."
- Boston Globe
here to read excerpt.
A novel that's so engrossing it makes you want to
retire to a squashy sofa until you reach the end.
Vividly fresh...glittering and spangled with fabulous
- Sunday Times
of Love marries a wide diversity of elements,
mythical and modern, ironic and moving, exhilarating
and melancholy...a love-surveying story that is enticingly
- Times Literary
of Love is a hymn to the pleasures and pains,
the raptures even of an unspectacular life. Fay discovers
that happiness is "a kind of by-product of existence,
and not an end in itself". This piece of knowledge
saves her, Shields suggests, from the watery, ambiguous
yearning of the mermaid, "plaintive, coy", wordlessly
calling out to no one. A simple message, but Shields
delivers it with so much grace and so little pretension,
that it is impossible not to be enchanted by her voice.
She sings with the charm of a true siren. In her hands,
we believe, anything can happen."
Fay McLeod and Tom Avery are likable souls: kind to their
parents, close to friends and co-workers, dedicated to
their professions (she's a folklorist, he's a radio talk
show host). But thus far both have been unlucky in love.
Fay has never married; Tom has married and divorced rather
too often. Participating on the periphery of lives of
married friends has begun to pall. They finally meet,
and it is a coup de foudre for both, but Fay is leaving
that night for a month of mermaid research in Europe.
Even when she returns, their affair is jeopardized by
upheavals in others' lives. Can a woman of letters find
happiness with a spokesman for the commonplace? Stay tuned!
This is a most satisfying book, with dimensions of character,
details of plot, and insights into contemporary life that
sustain reader interest throughout. Highly recommended.
- Review by Marnie Webb, King City Library
System, Seattle, Library Journal
with Carol Shields
in Vancouver, 1992 (transcribed from audio tape)
joins me now and let's hear her read from her new book,
The Republic of Love.
Winnipeg has its city share of graffiti-splattered back
alleys, but is mostly made up of wide, formal boulevards
lined with handsome stone buildings hideously exposed
despite repeated attempts at landscaping. This is a
place with a short, tough history and a pug-faced name.
Elsewhere people blink when you say where you're from
and half the time they don't know where it is. An American
woman Tom met in San Diego on his last vacation there
dug her fingernails into his bare shoulder and said,
"God I don't believe it. You mean to tell me you live
north of North Dakota?" Right now early June is the
worst time of the year. Worst because he forgets from
summer to summer that it's really going to happen. Just
when the trees have finally filled out their crowns
with great glossy leaves the cankerworms go on the march.
The larvae make their way up the tree trunks and then
the munching begins. It takes no more than two days
to transform an avenue of foliage into ragged lace and
ten days to strip the trees bare. At night there's a
steady drizzling rain which is not rain at all but the
continuously falling excrement of billions of cankerworms
chewing and digesting. The streets and sidewalks are
covered with slippery syrup, the air turns putrid. The
worms grown fat spin themselves long, sticky threads
and on these they descend like acrobats to the ground
where they lay their eggs for the following year. ...
...a valentine for all seasons,
a delightful, funny, touching celebration of romance
for grown-ups of either sex."
- Toronto Sun
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