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About this book
- WINNER of the 2020 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour!
Aspiring novelist Molly MacGregor’s life is strikingly different from a literary heroine's. Named for one of literature’s least romantic protagonists, Moll Flanders, Molly lives in Edmonton, a city she finds irredeemably unromantic, where she writes university term papers instead of novels, and sells shoes in the Largest Mall on Earth. There she seeks the other half of her young life's own matched pair. Delightfully whimsical, Heidi L.M. Jacobs’ Molly of the Mall: Literary Lass and Purveyor of Fine Footwear explores its namesake's love for the written word, love for the wrong men (and the right one), and her complicated love for her city.
• Author-curated Spotify playlist!
• Chosen as a 2019 Book of the Year on Pickle Me This!
• Avenue Edmonton Q&A
• CBC radio Afternoon Drive interview
• CBC radio Daybreak Alberta interview
• Edmonton Journal inteview
• Western News interview
• CBC Edmonton AM - Glass Bookshop Summer Reads Recommendation
• Author Essay about Molly of the Mall in Orillia Matters
• CBC The Next Chapter interview
Book Club Questions
1. The city of Edmonton can be seen as something more than just the setting of this book. Discuss what this city and the discussion of it adds to the book as a whole.
2. Jane Austen was incredibly important to Molly and had a huge influence on her life. Can you relate to Molly’s connection with Jane Austen? Have there been writers or books that were or are important to you and your life?
3. Throughout this book, Molly tries out various writerly personas and styles. Do you think Molly will go on to write a novel? If so, what kind of novel do you think she will write?
4. This book has a Spotify playlist to accompany it. What do you think music adds to this novel in terms of plot, character, and/ or mood?
5. The author of Molly of the Mall has said, “this book would have been very different had it been set after the arrival of smartphones.” What would have been different if it had been set today instead of 1995/1996?
6. As much as Molly dreams of leaving Edmonton, she still says “the thought of leaving seems incomprehensible.” Why does she say that? Why is she both desperate to leave and nervous to go? Have you ever felt that way?
7. At its core, this is a book about learning and education. Molly learns something important from almost every character in the book—both real and literary. Who do you think was most influential on Molly and why?
8. Half of this book is set at a university and half at a shopping mall. What do these two settings add to the book? How are they different? How are they similar? What do each add?
9. Where do you think Molly will be ten years after the end of the book? What is she doing? Who is she with? What kinds of shoes will she be wearing?
10. If you were making Molly into a movie, who would you cast as Molly? As Mark? As Maureen? As Hamish? As Professor Byron Keats? What character would you most like to play?
11. Because these questions should “go to eleven,” let’s finish with the exam question Molly always prepared for but was never asked: “Would you date Wickham if you stopped reading Pride and Prejudice at the end of Chapter 24?”
Excerpt from Molly of the Mall
After handing in my final papers last week, I realized I had a whole summer ahead of me and decided I should use this time constructively to finally read Moll Flanders. I stared at it all last night, but couldn’t bring myself to read more than the first paragraph and the back cover. Instead, I rewrote its back-cover blurb: “After several romantically melancholic years in Paris where the stunningly stylish Moll Flanders dated eighteenth-century equivalents of Jeremy Irons, John Cusack, and Alan Rickman, Moll moved to London where she became a cautiously respected artist, fashionably misunderstood novelist, and discreetly sought-after milliner. After a life-altering disagreement with her eighteenth-century Alan Rickman equivalent (who, while riding in a picturesque landscape in the rain, suffers a tragic fall from a very attractive dapple-grey horse, and utters ‘Moll. Forgive me,’ as his final words. The only one to hear his long-overdue apology was the dapple grey who promptly disregarded these words as inconsequential), Moll set out to make it on her own, possessing only her rapier-like wit and acute sense of style. In due time, she became an Augustan-era It Girl and found almost-true love with an eighteenth-century Noel Gallagher, and then truer love with a John Cusack equivalent.” I wrote twelve more versions of the blurb, all of them involving Alan Rickman, John Cusack, rain in a picturesque landscape, and an attractive horse of varying colours. Some included members of Oasis.
No matter how many times I rewrote the back-cover blurb, I had to come to terms with the fact that this Moll does not live in London, or Paris, nor does she perambulate within a picturesque landscape sodden with melancholic rain. Rather, this Moll lives in Edmonton where the men who love her are imaginary, fictional, or weird, the landscape is flat and snowy eight months of the year, and millinery is confined to the knitting of toques. Maybe instead of reading Moll Flanders this summer, I should write my own fortunes and misfortunes. And so, dear reader, I ask you, as Moll asks her dear reader on the first page, to “give me leave to speak of myself, under that Name till I dare own who I have been, as well as who I am.”
"Heidi L.M. Jacobs nails it. Molly of the Mall relentlessly, hilariously conveys the ennui felt by anyone who has ever read a book and then gone to the mall, just as it captures the malaise and pretension of every undergraduate English course ever. A rollicking literary romance set in the icy moonscape of 1990s Edmonton, Molly is wicked good fun."
"Heidi L.M. Jacobs has created a delightfully whimsical protagonist in Molly. Always informed by the characters from literature she loves, she approaches life in her own unique, and fanciful, way. Such fun to follow the retail nightmares and romantic comedy mishaps of this Austenian heroine of mid-90s Edmonton."
"I loved this novel." full review
"[A] charming debut..." full review