The Gallery of Lost Species

The Gallery of Lost Species

Book - 2016
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"Edith grows up in her big sister Vivienne's shadow. While the beautiful Viv is forced by the girls' overbearing mother to compete in child beauty pageants, plain-looking Edith follows in her father's footsteps: collecting oddities, studying coins, and reading from old books. When Viv rebels against her mother's expectations, Edith finds herself torn between a desire to help her sister and pursuing her own love for a boy who might love her sister more than he loves her. When Edith accepts a job at the National Gallery of Canada, she meets an elderly cryptozoologist named Theo who is searching for a bird many believe to be extinct. Navigating her way through Vivienne's dark landscape while trying to win Liam's heart, Edith develops an unlikely friendship with Theo when she realizes they might have more in common than she imagined; they are both trying to retrieve something that may be impossible to bring back to life."--
Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2016.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9781250085078
Branch Call Number: FIC BERKHOUT, NINA
Characteristics: 335 pages ; 22 cm


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Jan 25, 2018

I was very surprised by this book. The author based the novel in Ottawa, with much of the story taking place at the National Gallery. Yet she somehow managed to transcend the city's political roots and instead focused on the rich symbolism, mystery and intrigue within its streets and landmarks. It's very rare that I find a story by a local author that is so captivating and utterly compelling. The narrative is poetic, cathartic, a little dark and twisted, and deeply emotional, and the main character's personal journey is fascinating to witness. Highly recommended.

Apr 26, 2017

A profound story of a fractured family and one daughter's attempt to make sense of it all through her ever-vanishing older sister, a survivor of the Child Pageant Circuit. I loved the ebbing rhythm and lucid prose of Nina Berkhout that pulls you along gently to the story's conclusion. If you like the mildly bleak aesthetic of Canadian literature, you will love Berkhout's study of Edith, Vivienne, and their flawed parents.

This book and author reminded me a lot of Canadian authors Eden Robinson (Monkey Beach) and the classic David Adams Richards (Nights Below Station Street, Mercy Among the Children, The Bay of Love and Sorrows, etc.).

A hugely memorable read; highly recommended.

basilbrynn1 Jun 21, 2015

This is an incredibly moving book. Poor Edith is so desperate to have a good life but her undying and naive faith in her sister holds her back. A beautifully written book and a good Canadian one at that!


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Nov 23, 2017

"What was missing in Jonathan, which was engrained in myself and everyone I knew, was bitterness. (p. 323) "... I thought of Theo often. Mostly I pondered his lifelong obsession with the remnants of lost worlds, and his pilgrimages through pristine and unravaged lands. And I thought about how we were all caught up by unreachables: those lost to us that we couldn't get back, who beckoned from a place off the radar, beyond our grasp. (p. 330)


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