Monday, October 17, 2011

Brian Francis is one to watch...

After a huge hit with his first novel Fruit, Brian Francis has set a high bar with Natural Order and he clears it effortlessly. This novel is a generational tale set in small town Ontario, where as a young girl, Joyce has fallen for Freddy a neighbourhood boy who stands out for his love of Broadway and his effusive personality. In today's world Freddy would get on about as well as anyone, however in the 1950's he couldn't reveal who he was and leaves Balsden, Ontario as soon as he can.

As an elderly woman in a nursing home, Joyce is forced (by a secret in Freddy's past) to come to terms with her son John who more recently has died after a "sudden illness" in 1980's Toronto. This forces Joyce to traverse her unexamined early life, and the circumstances of both her childhood friend and her son, each who have struggled as gay men in different and less easier times.

The triumph in Natural Order is the interior character of Joyce, who while in her 80's has had to square attitudes born of her time with the reality that time is running out. While befriending a gay volunteer in her nursing home, Joyce's character and the novel reveal how one person who believes herself a failure reconciles her life with those she loved.

Natural Order in wonderfully nuanced and Francis makes sure that every character bears the weight of their time. It would have been easy to make any main character in Natural Order a sociopolitical stalking horse, but the author took the harder road here, and Natural Order succeeds because of it. This is a solid and assured second effort from a writer to watch.

- David

Brian Francis and Marina Endicott will be at the store for a free event on November 3rd, starting at 7pm. For more information click HERE.

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