by W. P. Kinsella
There is not a lot to say about this competently written female coming of age story (except for this bit: "Allegra went to a place that specialized in tea that looked like a haunted house..."). Alice, a Toronto girl, has managed to get to first year at McGill University in Montreal without even having a boyfriend, let alone having sex. She is not sure she will ever understand the complexities of life and relationships; she is away from home for the first time, and desperately looking for her place in the world. Coming from a very sheltered middle class background, she'd like to express her passion for life, but simply doesn't know how. Her roommates are much more worldly. Allegra is an artist and a free spirit. Cricket is an athlete, rather obnoxious, and jealous of Alice for becoming friends with Allegra. Alice's best friend from home, Bethany, is a stick in the mud.
Then Alice meets Nellcott. He is in his early twenties, works in a record store, and expresses his rebelliousness by wearing eyeliner and smoking cigarettes. As a bad influence he is pretty tame. He is sexually experienced, but folds completely when Alice denies him sex. They sleep together many times but are never intimate. Alice is pretty much a blank page. What exactly Nellcott sees in her is difficult to fathom. Nothing much happens.
Alice is a very awkward girl, trying to figure out life. She seems impossibly naive, and everyone seems way too nice for 1990s university students.
W. P. Kinsella will receive the Order of British Columbia, June 29, in Victoria.