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Little Sister
Cover of Little Sister
Little Sister
A Novel

The farthest place you can go is closer than you can imagine.

Rose is a sensible woman, thirty-four years old. Together with her widowed mother, Fiona, she runs a small repertory cinema in a big city. Fiona is in the early stages of dementia and is beginning to make painful references to Rose's sister, Ava, who died young in an accident.

It is high summer, and a band of storms, unusual for their frequency and heavy downpour, is rolling across the city. Something unusual is also happening to Rose. As the storms break overhead, she loses consciousness and has vivid, realistic dreams—not only about being someplace else, but also of living someone else's life.

Is Rose merely dreaming? Or is she, in fact, inside the body of another woman? Disturbed and entranced, she tries to find out what is happening to her.

Like The White Bone, Gowdy's international bestseller, Little Sister is a fictional tour de force. As the author explores the limits of the human mind, the result is an impassioned tale of one woman's determination to help a woman she has never met, and to come to terms with a death for which she has always felt responsible.

The farthest place you can go is closer than you can imagine.

Rose is a sensible woman, thirty-four years old. Together with her widowed mother, Fiona, she runs a small repertory cinema in a big city. Fiona is in the early stages of dementia and is beginning to make painful references to Rose's sister, Ava, who died young in an accident.

It is high summer, and a band of storms, unusual for their frequency and heavy downpour, is rolling across the city. Something unusual is also happening to Rose. As the storms break overhead, she loses consciousness and has vivid, realistic dreams—not only about being someplace else, but also of living someone else's life.

Is Rose merely dreaming? Or is she, in fact, inside the body of another woman? Disturbed and entranced, she tries to find out what is happening to her.

Like The White Bone, Gowdy's international bestseller, Little Sister is a fictional tour de force. As the author explores the limits of the human mind, the result is an impassioned tale of one woman's determination to help a woman she has never met, and to come to terms with a death for which she has always felt responsible.

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About the Author-
  • Barbara Gowdy is the author of seven books, including Helpless, The Romantic, The White Bone, Mister Sandman, We So Seldom Look on Love and Falling Angels, all of which have been met with widespread international acclaim and critical praise. She has been a finalist three times for the Governor General's Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, twice for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and has been long-listed for the Booker Prize. In 1996 she received the Marian Engel Award, and in 2008 the Trillium Book Award. Barbara Gowdy is a Member of the Order of Canada and a Guggenheim Fellow. She lives in Toronto.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 13, 2017
    Gowdy’s (The White Bone) new novel weaves an inventive, spellbinding tale of loss, regret, and redemption that takes a heartfelt look at what it means to be a mother, daughter, and sister. Lately, whenever it rains in Toronto, Rose Bowan leaves her own body and enters the body of another woman. She can hear, see, smell, and touch what Harriet Smith senses, and quickly becomes wrapped up in her life problems. Harriet reminds Rose of her dead sister, Ava; Rose sets out to save Harriet’s troubled life to make up for not being able to save Ava’s. Meanwhile, Rose’s mother is in the early stages of dementia, talking about seeing Ava again, and Rose must nurse her mother through these end times while trying to uncover the reasons why she’s in another woman’s body every time it rains and why she, too, sees Ava in Harriet. A thrilling, captivating exploration of guilt, the female psyche, and the bonds of womanhood.

  • Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "ELECTRIFYING ... Gowdy sucks readers into this suspenseful, supernatural story like a strong wind in a squall."
  • Quill & Quire (starred review) "Highly readable prose, an intriguing premise, and vivid storytelling."
  • Publishers Weekly "Gowdy's new novel weaves an inventive, spellbinding tale of loss, regret, and redemption that takes a heartfelt look at what it means to be a mother, daughter, and sister... A thrilling, captivating exploration of guilt, the female psyche, and the bonds of womanhood."
  •   Jose Teodoro "[Little Sister] is fun and funny and can frequently startle you, breaking your heart with the lovingly observed minutia of everyday experience... Little Sister is all depth and grace and yet never more than a sentence away from a playful nudge in the ribs."
  • Library Journal "Her tender, and occasionally funny, portrayal of Rose explores the boundaries of the human soul and those responsibilities that weigh upon us as much if not more than it explores the boundaries of the human mind...Recommended."
  • Toronto Star "Barbara Gowdy's portrayal of oddball family 'shimmers on the page'... As always, Gowdy tells a great story in a commanding voice. In addition, this time around she introduces a new device that allows her to explore rich and rewarding territory."
  • National Post "[Gowdy] maintains her judicious mixture of warmth and weirdness."
  • Mark Medley for The Globe and Mail "Little Sister... marks the return, after the longest break of her career, of one of the most inventive and important writers Canada has ever produced."
  • Montreal Gazette "Gowdy's dazzling new novel was a hard-won creation... ranks among her very best."
  • Zoe Whittall, Literary Review of Canada "One of Canada's most innovative writers... she offers us something startling and original... A suspenseful, cinematic romp through a series of external and internal storms, a sometimes sexy comedy, a graceful story of a woman trying to make sense of her life choices. Well worth the wait."
  • Toronto Life "Barbara Gowdy writes neo-Gothic psychodrama like no other Canadian."
  • Winnipeg Review "Internationally acclaimed author Barbara Gowdy's newest novel, Little Sister, is a remarkable look at the intricacies of emotional lives and the spectre of the past."
  • Heather O'Neill, award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of Lullabies for Little Criminals. "Little Sister is an existential puzzle about the female psyche...Gowdy is renowned for her ability to shine light on the hidden, unsavory and electric recesses of the mind. In Little Sister, her storytelling is fearless, inventive and dazzling."
  • Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People "The last book I read that I couldn't put down was an advance reading copy of Barbara Gowdy's Little Sister. It's just a stunning page-turner, everything obsessive Gowdy fans such as me have been waiting for."
  • Sarah Selecky, Scotiabank-Giller short-listed author of This Cake Is For the Party "I read it fast. Too fast, probably, but I couldn't help myself...the mystery is irresistible. I love reading Barbara Gowdy because she's not afraid to get weird, to put her reader in troubling, inexplicable states of consciousness...Such a satisfying read!"
  • Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Treasure "Little Sister is weird and wonderful. Like all of Gowdy's work, it will subtly change how you look at the everyday."
  • Helen Phillips, author of The Beautiful Bureaucrat "At once suspenseful and lyrical, Little Sister transports its characters (and its readers) into different bodies and different eras. Brilliantly, devastatingly, Barbara Gowdy unveils the alternate possibilities hidden within the everyday."
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    HarperCollins Canada
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Little Sister
A Novel
Barbara Gowdy
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