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October 8, 2013 / Leslie

Review: Sanctuary Line by Jane Urquhart

SanctuaryLineSanctuary Line
by Jane Urquhart

Genre: Literature
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Publish Date: September 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover | 240 pages
Rating: 4 of 5

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Set in the present day on a farm at the shores of Lake Erie, Jane Urquhart’s stunning new novel weaves elements from the nineteenth-century past, in Ireland and Ontario, into a gradually unfolding contemporary story of events in the lives of the members of one family that come to alter their futures irrevocably.

There are ancestral lighthouse-keepers, seasonal Mexican workers; the migratory patterns and survival techniques of the Monarch butterfly; the tragedy of a young woman’s death during a tour of duty in Afghanistan; three very different but equally powerful love stories.

My Thoughts:

Liz Crane has returned to her family’s farmhouse on the shore of Lake Erie, a once happy place where she spent many summers as a young girl. Now the house is empty, the farm falling into ruins and most of her family has moved on or passed away. Liz is now an entomologist studying the migratory habits of the Monarch butterfly; the old farm seems like a good place for her to do her research.

Before long Liz is haunted by nostalgic thoughts from the past. Triggering these thought were the recent death of Amanda, her cousin and constant playmate during those lakeside summers. The summer when Liz was sixteen, her uncle, Amanda’s father, left the farm one night never to be seen again. Eventually Liz reveals the mystery of his disappearance and the sorrow and pain surrounding it.

The story is told by Liz in a beautifully descriptive narrative, delicately peeling back the layers of her family history and their relationship with the land. Slow moving, richly detailed and with well-developed characters, the reader needs to have patience to appreciate this novel. The pace is leisurely and meandering.

This is a very literary, multi-layered novel, with symbolism throughout. The plot doesn’t come together until the last quarter of the book. There were a few times when I considered abandoning the book because, while I do enjoy literature, nothing was happening to move this story along. Yes, the pace of the novel was slow, but the ending was powerful, thought-provoking and one that will linger. The wait was worth it.

Source: Review copy provided by the publicist.
© 2013 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Debbie Rodgers @Exurbanis / Oct 8 2013 1:14 pm

    This is on my list to be read before the end of 2013 (I need an author starting with “U” 😉 Last year, Urquhart rescued me with The Underpainter). That slow moving story with the ‘pow’ ending seems to be more or less Urqhuart’s signature. I’m looking forward to this one very much.


    • Leslie / Oct 8 2013 1:22 pm

      This was the first time I’ve read one of her books. I’m glad I stuck with it. If it hadn’t been a review copy I might not have. Now I want to try some of her other books – but only when I’m in an introspective mood.


  2. Suko / Oct 8 2013 3:09 pm

    I’m glad you stuck with this, and that it was powerful. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.


  3. BermudaOnion / Oct 8 2013 5:23 pm

    I’m not sure I’d have the patience for this right now.


  4. irene / Oct 8 2013 7:09 pm

    Sounds like it was worth waiting for. Thanks. I’ve been trying to be “patient”


  5. Vicki / Oct 10 2013 3:31 pm

    I grew up in Ohio and spent many days on Lake Erie, so that’s part of the pull for me. I also like the synopsis, so I’m adding this book to my ever growing tbr list.


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