Kathleen Winter – Book Club with the Author
Please join us for the latest iteration of our Book Club with the Author, where a local Montreal author joins us to discuss their book! This time, we’ll be discussing Lost in September by author Kathleen Winter. As with all our book clubs, we recommend reading the book in advance, but you are welcome to attend as long as you are all right with spoilers.
About the author:
Kathleen Winter’s debut story collection, boYs (Biblioasis), won the 2006 Metcalf Rooke award. Her 2010 novel, Annabel (Anansi), won the Thomas Head Raddall Award and was a finalist for Canada’s Giller, Writers’ Trust and Governor General’s literary prizes. Her Arctic memoir, Boundless, was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust, RBC Taylor Prize, and QWF Mavis Gallant non fiction awards. Lost in September, her 2017 novel based on letters written by General James Wolfe to his mother, was shortlisted for The Hugh MacLennan and Governor General’s literary awards. Winter lives in Montreal.
About the book:
Enter the world of Jimmy–a tall, red-haired, homeless thirty-something ex-soldier, battered by PTSD–as he camps out on the streets of modern-day Montreal, trying to remember and reclaim his youth. While his past is something of an enigma, even to himself, the young man bears a striking resemblance to General James Wolfe, “Conqueror of Canada” and “Hero of Quebec,” who died on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
As a young soldier in his twenties, the historical James Wolfe (1727-1759) was granted a short and much longed-for leave to travel to Paris to study poetry, music and dance–three of his passions. But in that very year, 1752, the British Empire abandoned the Julian calendar for the Gregorian, and every citizen of England lost eleven days: September 2 was followed by September 14. These lost eleven days happened to occur during the period that Wolfe had been granted for his leave. Despondent and bitter, he never got the chance to explore his artistic bent, and seven short years later, on the anniversary of this foreshortened leave, he died on the Plains of Abraham.
Now, James is getting his eleven days back . . . but instead of the salons of 18th century Paris, he’s wandering the streets of present-day Montreal and Quebec City, not as “the Hero of Quebec” but as a damaged war veteran wracked with anguish. Much like George Saunders in Lincoln in the Bardo, award-winning author Kathleen Winter takes a brief, intensely personal incident in the life of a famous historical figure, and using her incomparable gifts as a fiction writer, powerfully reimagines him. Here is a wrenching, unforgettable portrait–like none you have ever seen or read–of one of the most well-known figures in Canadian history.