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In his evocative debut novel, Light on a Part of the Field, Kevin Holowack introduces us to a family grappling with artistic ambition, mental illness, and rifts that may not be possible to mend. Set in B.C. and Alberta in the 1960s and 1970s, this is a novel of finely observed vignettes offering a refracted look at art and family in the modern West.
A young artist, Ruth, and her obsessive husband are struck by lightning, an experience that throws their lives into a universe of intense beauty and angst. Years later, Ruth lives on a farm her husband bought before his mysterious disappearance, and she creates idyllic but unremarkable paintings to cope with her confusion and loss. Then, without warning, her eldest daughter Gayle is love-struck by a travelling stranger and runs off to Edmonton where she too must contend with poverty, sickness, and her father’s upsetting legacy. Meanwhile, farm-bound Ruth becomes more frantic in her work and begins longing for human contact as her house and animals disintegrate around her.
As Gayle and Ruth seek new ways of connecting in order to remedy their unsettling family legacy, they begin a complicated process of renewal and must decide whether they can reconcile despite all the pain they have caused one another.
"A mesmerizing story of love, loss and obsession for a family out of sync with the world and its modern constraints. In chronicling the imperfect lives of the Windsors on their quest to find beauty in forgotten places, Holowack has created a masterpiece. Every sentence its own triumph."