The Love of Women

by Jenifer McVaugh, Jenifer Mcvaugh,
250 pages,
ISBN: 0888871732

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First Novels - Slippery Moves
by Eva Tihanyi

The Love of Women (Borealis, 203 pages, no price given) by Jennifer McVaugh is a female picaresque, the light-hearted tale of Rosie Goshen, for whom life is simply "a matter of initiative". Rosie is raised in a convent and eventually married off by the nuns to a widower who lives in "a remote and cheerless shack in the featureless bush near Aird" and who doesn't care which girl he weds "[a]s long as she's healthy". During the few weeks Rosie spends with her husband, they exchange only a few words since he is "a silent man". She is smart enough to recognize that she does not want this "gloomy fate", so she absconds with enough money to get her to Ottawa. She accidentally gets off at the wrong trainstop-Booth, a small (fictional) town in the Ottawa Valley-and lands herself a job at the local hotel operated by Carmel McReady Woods. Carmel's husband, the stunning and self-absorbed Lawrence, seduces Rosie; he is even eager to convince her that he wants to run away with her. Unfortunately, before he has the opportunity to prove his devotion, he dies after being kicked by a horse. Rosie takes it all in stride-no guilt, no remorse, always the pragmatic one even in matters of morality. As she remarks to one of the mourners, "[i]f you think repentance is simple, I can only imagine that you've never been obliged to ask yourself to do it".


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