Valentine's Fall

Cary Fagan

Imprint: Cormorant Books | Format: Trade Paperback | Pub Date: 2009 | 292 pages | ISBN: 978-1-897151-45-7 | Price: $21.00

No one is certain whether Valentine meant to jump that day, or if falling from the high school roof (wearing a suit of armour stolen from the Royal Ontario Museum) was a mishap in his attempt to win back his girlfriend. Twenty-five years later, Valentine's friend Huddie Rosen has more important questions on his mind. Can he save his marriage and family? Should he give up the hand-to-mouth existence of a bluegrass musician and get a "real" life?

Back in Toronto for the first time in years, Huddie finds himself caught up in the lives of his old friends. There is Marjorie Luckenbill, Valentine's former sweetheart and the force behind a memorial in his honour; Larry Nussbaum, high-school prankster turned widowed father; Felix Roth, a novelist desperately trying to resurrect his career; and Annie Lynch, Huddie's own first love.

But can he give them all what they want, make his wife and daughters happy, and take responsibility for the direction of his own life? Passion, despair, guilt, humour, hope, and bluegrass — Valentine's Fall has it all.

A literary novel, but not the sort in which the writing calls attention to itself. It's the characters, and in particular the dialogue, that stand out. Huddie's exchanges with his mother, his wife and his old friends illustrate the complexities of human relationships and the surprising oddity and messiness of life. Although the complexities and messiness remain, Huddie does make what he feels is a wise choice in the end. This novel brings the reader into a growing involvement in Huddie's life, from his shaky arrival in Toronto to the rather touching conclusion.

— Winnipeg Free Press

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