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Sanctuary Line Hardcover – 4 Oct 2010

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Hardcover, 4 Oct 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing (4 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596923660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596923669
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 15 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,014,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'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.

'Urquhart's prose is as smooth and uncluttered as Margaret Atwood's' Lisa Allardice, Observer.

'Like the monarch butterflies at the heart of the story, Jane Urqhuart's novel Sanctuary Line is a delicate work of rare beauty' The Tablet Summer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Jane Urquhart's stunning new novel weaves elements from the nineteenth century in Ireland and North America into a contemporary story of events in the lives of one family. Recently returned to Lake Erie, Ontario, 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 Amanda's father, an irrepressible chronicler of the Butler family lore and a charismatic authority figure. A storyteller in her own right, Liz explores the intriguing history of the eccentric Butler family, ancestral lighthouse-keepers, agriculturists and dreamers, and re-evaluates the destinies of the seasonal workers who were imported each summer from Mexico to harvest the fruit on the farm, among them Teo, a boy alone in his apartness. Surrounded by memories, Liz is haunted by a deeply buried family secret, by four different, unexpected love affairs, and by the tragic events that ultimately re-shaped all their futures. In an eloquent and powerful narrative, Jane Urquhart brings to vivid life those fragile patterns of the past that make us who we are, and shows the extent to which we can be influenced by absences on the difficult path to understanding and forgiveness.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Friederike Knabe on 6 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover
"... The cultivated landscape of this farm has decayed so completely now, it is difficult to believe that the fields and orchards ever existed outside my own memories, my own imagination... ". With these opening lines Liz Crane, forty-year old entomologist and the central voice in Jane Urquhart's new, engrossing and most personal novel invites us into her world and into her mind. Having recently returned to the old Butler homestead, Liz feels she needs to reconnect with all that is familiar from the past. She lets her memories return to the fun-filled summers of her childhood, spent amongst her cousins and the rest of the extended family. They bring to mind the annual migration of the Monarch butterflies that she now and studies at the nearby Sanctuary Research Centre. Important questions have lingered on about the whereabouts of some loved ones. Will her going through the remnants of memorabilia kept in the farmhouse shed some light on these?

Much of the story takes place in the nineteen eighties at the Butler family farm on the northern - Canadian - shore of Lake Erie, a landscape that is depicted with detailed and loving attention. Liz, the city girl, is the enthusiastic "summer cousin" immersed in play and exploration, especially with her cousin Mandy. Mandy and her father Stanley, the head of the Butler clan, are often on Liz's mind now in her ruminations about the past. Mandy, the poetry lover turned military officer, was killed on duty in Afghanistan not long ago, and Stan, the life-loving "innovative" farmer, disappeared without a trace one day, twenty years earlier. Reminiscences also take her back to Teo, the Mexican boy, whom she got to know over several summers at the farm. His mother was one of the Mexicans working there each season. They had become close friends, until...
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By Johnny Mac on 25 July 2013
Format: Paperback
If this were a painting, it would be classed as impressionist. The style is different to Jane Urquhart's usual writings but just goes to show what a versatile mind she has. Imaginative, evocative, emotive, descriptive - this book has it all. She brings to life not only the characters but the farm, the river, the Line itself. There is sadness and even abject misery, but also the sheer joy of the children's summers and the easy interaction over those summers that only children can experience. The book is the result of the reminiscent musings of Liz (the 'speaker') and not the usual 'telling of a story' at all; nevertheless, a story is told. Such a pity that Ms. Urquhart writes only one book every 4 years!!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book especially the beautiful prose and the way he described the places and the people. At the end when one understood who the "you" was alot of things came together and the book benefitted from a repeat reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 26 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Of Monarchs and Memory 4 Oct. 2010
By Roger Brunyate - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a novel about memory, nostalgic, partial, sometimes painful, but always intriguing. At any time, a person's mind potentially holds the sum total of all her experience, though she may not be able to access all of it. She may have forgotten details, until reminded by revisiting a place or picking up a keepsake. There may be memories too hurtful to recall, until the recounting of simpler things clears a pathway to them. There may be things that she cannot understand until the light of maturity suddenly reveals their meaning. Unlike a tale told chronologically, a novel based on memory contains its entire story in outline from the first pages on -- although it remains unclear in detail, emotion, and significance until we have lived long enough in the narrator's mind to explore her past from within. And Jane Urquhart, in the gradual unspooling of memory that is the essence of her latest novel, allows us to inhabit the mind of Liz Crane, her protagonist and narrator, as though it were our own.

Liz is an entomologist, working at a sanctuary situated on a promontory of the Canadian shore of Lake Erie. She studies the Monarch butterfly, which migrates annually from Canada to Mexico and back again, the task being spread between several generations, dying so that others may live. Urquhart makes this a metaphor for the theme of human migration over successive generations that threads through this book. As a child, Liz would spend her summers at her uncle's orchard farm, worked each year by families flown in from Mexico, whose children she would get to know. Her own family, the Butlers, emigrated from Ireland a century before, settling on both the American and Canadian sides of the lake; the novel is full of their stories of risk-taking and loss. Her uncle himself was given to unexplained disappearances, and one year he simply walked out of their lives for good. More recently, her cousin Mandy, a senior officer in the Canadian army, spent several years in Afghanistan, dying there shortly before the book opens. There are other deaths also that will emerge as the memories come into focus, but there is also life, love, and friendship, and golden echoes of those endless summer evenings of childhood in the country.

The three novels by Jane Urquhart that precede this -- AWAY (1993), THE STONE CARVERS (2001), and A MAP OF GLASS (2005) -- have all been panoramic stories told chronologically. SANCTUARY LINE is different in being intimate, personal, and reflective, the same events coming back again and again, growing in meaning with each telling. Urquhart has always been a poet, even in her prose, and this book has the structure of poetry itself -- a quality that is found also in CHANGING HEAVEN (1990), though its atmosphere is altogether wilder than the relative quietness here. Poetry, which was Mandy's passion, actually plays a large part in it, with well-placed quotations from Robert Louis Stevenson (whose greatness I cannot see) and Emily Dickinson (whom Urquhart makes me appreciate as never before). This is distinctly an older person's vision. Its prevailing poetic moods are pastoral and elegy: Urquhart's love of the country and her lament for its disappearance. In this, she echoes themes from her earlier novels, especially A MAP OF GLASS. All her books draw strength from their local roots.

But she very much needs those roots. When Mandy goes to Afghanistan, she is in an utterly different environment that Urquhart does not entirely manage to connect to her own; she is absent from this world, but never convincingly present in that one. This matters most in the final section, when Urquhart attempts to close the circle and does not quite succeed. Which is a pity since this epilogue is intended to balance the opening book-end, showing Mandy's hearse being driven along Canadian highways as policemen, firemen, and members of the public gather on overpasses. It is a hero's return, a poignant image of loss and homecoming, the themes of this entire book. But the most hopeful symbol is that of the Monarchs, flying to and fro between Mexico and Canada, and converting the trees on which they land into tongues of living flame.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sanctuary 19 July 2014
By C. Irish - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sanctuary Line will appeal to anyone who loves historical fiction. This is a beautifully rendered tale about Liz Crane who goes back to live at the family farm after everyone has died or left, as is the case of her mother who lives in a nearby senior home. Once a thriving farm and orchard, the farm is dilapidated and empty except for the furniture and the remnants left behind by her relatives. Liz had spent her summers growing up at the farm near the shores of Lake Erie and now she lives at the farm alone and studies the migratory path of the Monarch butterfly as well as their life cycle. Liz is very alone as she sifts through all of her memories of the farm trying to make sense of what she witnessed as a young girl. Her cousin, Mandy who she grew up with has recently died in Afghanistan and Liz struggles to come to terms with her death as well as other mysteries that occurred at the farm. Her uncle, Stanley, was a large presence at the farm and his sudden disappearance left the family reeling.

This is a good book to relax and read and step into another era and another life. Jane Urquhart's writing is sublime and very enjoyable. I loved how the memories seeped into the present and I loved learning about the Monarch's flight and struggles. Good read!!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing 15 Nov. 2014
By nonpareil - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a difficult review to write. I cannot bring myself to include the reactions, the notes I made as I was reading, as they are just too insulting. Obviously I was not impressed. And frankly, I was most disappointed, having hoped for some good literature.

I did find some good passages. But overall the analogies seemed contrived, the inclusion of quotes from other authors an attempt to lend credence and suggest success by association, and the saga itself a self-conscious, repetitive diary, an attempt to make something out of little. The more dramatic ending seemed to me a Joseph's coat thrown over a dead body. Sorry. (This paragraph contains some of my milder reactions.)

It is the first I've read of her and I predict, the last. Sorry. Please buy and read at your own risk, and realize there may be reasons why others reviewers do not speak frankly.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Relax yourself before reading 12 Nov. 2013
By Neal Reynolds - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
SANCTUARY LINE isn't for the impatient reader. So prepare yourself. Have some calming music playing in the background, and a beverage that has a relaxing effect on the table next to you. This may be one you want to read over several days rather than in one or two sittings.

There's much about butterflies here and that's one learning experience you can expect while reading this. There's poetry here as others have pointed out. There's definitely plot here, but you will need patience since it does move slowly, maybe I should say Luxuriously.

Prepare yourself properly, and you'll love this book. Highly recommended for those willing to travel slowly to a beautiful conclusion.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Meditation on life, beautiful prose with disappointing ending 19 Nov. 2014
By pleureur. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jane Urquhart is clearly has a gift for writing, and this book is beautifully composed. However, it is more like a poem than a novel. There is no particular plot -- it is compilation of remembrances of things and people past, ancestors, family history, and the like.

Unfortunately when she attempts to spin a lengthy narrative, about her childhood and her deceased cousin Mandy, the story ultimately falls flat. I found the resolution of both of these stories to be very pat, in that the death of the characters conveniently eliminated the need to resolve the complex issues that their lives contained. I felt the book would have been much better leaving them unresolved and raw, instead of answering these questions in what is ultimately a rather soap-opera-like fashion. It felt very trite and was disappointing.

Additionally there was a thread running throughout the book that relationships between people of different ethnic groups, particularly romantic relationships, are doomed to complete failure. There are three very negative examples of such relationships, and no positive examples. There is a clear message that cultural differences present too enormous of a gulf, and can never be bridged.

The book was very meandering and so should not be read by someone looking for a linear story.
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