Shelter (Paperback)

By Frances Greenslade

Virago Press (UK), 9781844087952

Publication Date: February 1, 2012

May 2012 Indie Next List

“Maggie and Jenny are two sisters who sustain devastating losses at a very young age, but who are very different in many ways. Their father, Patrick, is killed in a logging accident and their mother leaves them with a friend and is 'gone, like a cat who goes out the back door one night and doesn't return.' The voice of 10-year-old Maggie is pitch-perfect as is the story she relates. How these two girls survive in the wilderness of northwest Canada amid uncaring, indifferent adults is a harrowing story wonderfully told.”
— Kathleen Dixon, Islandtime Books & More, Washington Island, WI
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A spellbinding and wise coming-of-age story from New Face of Fiction Frances Greenslade, Shelter draws readers into the precarious world of two young sisters in search of their mother, and brings to life a breathtaking BC landscape.
Maggie is a born worrier who really believes that trouble comes in threes and that threats to her family's cozy but fragile life in Duchess Creek are never far. For reasons she doesn't understand, her father favours her over her carefree older sister, Jenny, and takes her on outings to the bush where he shows her how to build shelters using leaves, sticks and fir boughs. Just in case. When he is killed in a logging accident, Maggie thinks her worst fear has come true, but her father's death is only the first blow in the destruction of her family. Soon her mother, Irene, the one Maggie has never worried about, abruptly drops off her girls in Williams Lake to billet with the gloomy Bea Edwards and her wheelchair-bound husband, Ted.
Irene promises she'll be back for them, but weeks turn to months and then to years. When trouble finds the girls for the third time, it comes for Jenny, who is pitched into a situation too frightening to handle. Maggie decides that it's up to her to find Irene and repair their fractured family. Her quest not only to find but to understand her mother brings the novel to a powerful, wrenching conclusion. Shelter's emotional richness, and Maggie's distinctive voice, invoke the bestselling novels of Miriam Toews and Mary Lawson. Greenslade's prose captures the exquisite beauty of the Chilcotin, the precious comfort of family and the poignant realization that we may never fully understand the people we love.

"From the Hardcover edition."

About the Author

FRANCES GREENSLADE was born in St. Catharines, ON, and has since lived in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and BC. She has a BA in English from the University of Winnipeg and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Her first book, a travel memoir called A Pilgrim in Ireland: A Quest for Home, won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Non-Fiction. Her second memoir, By the Secret Ladder: A Mother's Initiation, was published in 2007. Frances teaches English at Okanagan College in Penticton, BC. "From the Hardcover edition."