In this stunning debut novel, the Canadian novelist Jane Urquhart stakes her claim as a major storyteller of our generation. It is the summer of 1889 and on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, the undertaker’s wife is busy, for this is the season of crazy stunts and frequent accidents. Across the street, in Kirk’s Hotel, lives David McDougal, an obsessive military historian haunted by his past and by a wife whose own dreams move to the sonorous rhythms of Browning’s poetry and take shape in the woods beside a whirlpool. And it is here, in a glade below the falls, that she first encounters the poet, Patrick, the man destined to change her life.
This is a book combining a dreamlike, lyric texture with a certain and sensual voice. The people inhabiting its landscape are all caught up in the whirlpool’s inexorable embrace, their destinies are altered in mid-stream, the courses of their lives shifted back and forth by darker, more sinister currents. This is a strange (and in some ways a very strange), compelling, and utterly convincing tale of Victorian obsession, freshly recreated by a virtuoso of the imagination and of prose style.
Praise for The Whirlpool
The Whirlpool is a jewel of a book: its finely polished facets are full of light, yet suggest numerous depths … Urquhart’s moody, incisive and shimmering prose, her cleverness and wit soar.
—Toronto Globe and Mail
Urquhart’s dreamy, circular prose draws the reader in as surely as her characters are pulled to their destiny by the inescapable suction of the whirlpool. Highly recommended.
A strange and sensual first novel. . . Miss Urquhart is a special writer, worth watching on both sides of Niagara Falls.
—The New York Times