MacLehose Press

Sanctuary Line

by Jane Urquhart

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Jane Urquhart’s stunning new novel weaves elements from the nineteenth century in Ireland and Ontario into a contemporary story of events in the lives of one family.

Recently returned to Lake Erie to study the migratory patterns of the monarch butterfly, entomologist Liz Crane moves into her family’s now-deserted farmhouse. Casting a shadow over her life is the recent death of her cousin, Amanda Butler, a gifted military strategist killed in Afghanistan, and the disappearance many years earlier of her irrepressible, charismatic uncle. Liz explores the many-layered history of the eccentric Butler family, ancestral lighthouse-keepers, agriculturalists and dreamers and re-evaluates the lives of the seasonal workers imported each summer from Mexico to harvest the fruit on the farm, with them Teo, a young boy alone in his apartness. Surrounded by memories, Liz herself is haunted by a deeply buried family secret, by four different, unexpected love affairs, and by the tragic events that ultimately altered all their futures.

In this eloquent and powerful narrative, Jane Urquhart brings to vivid life those fragile patterns of the past that shape who we are, and shows the extent to which we can be influenced by absences on the difficult path to understanding and forgiveness.

‘The most compelling depiction of the sense of place in human lives’ Alice Munro.

‘Urquhart’s beautiful prose propels this quiet tale of familial love, parental absence and loss. Finally, as Liz’s memories sharpen, there is a revelation that forces a complete re-evaluation of the narrative. A thoroughly engaging read’ We Love This Book.

‘This is a mesmerising, beautiful book … it is a book to keep and which will be just as good on subsequent readings’ Bookbag.

‘Powered by the dense symbolism, intense emotion and preoccupation with nature that marks the romantics … Sanctuary Line is a book lover’s novel’ Donna Bailey Nurse, Globe and Mail.

‘Urquhart has a great gift for the historical novel, for the melding of ideas, events and individuals into a significant whole’ Claire Messud.

‘Complex and thought-provoking … Urquhart builds stories like an architect … and the brilliance of [her] powerful ending is that it makes us want to start again’ Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star.

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