Saturday, April 30

Book Review: Late Nights on the Air

Title: Late Nights on the Air

Author: Elizabeth Hay

Pages: 364

Summary: Set against the stunning background of the Canadian North, Elizabeth Hay's seductive award winning novel is story of misguided love, shifting loyalties, and hard-won self-discoveries. Harry Boyd, refugee from failure in Toronto television, returns to a small radio station in Yellowknife in the summer of 1975 and falls in love with a voice on air. The real woman, Dido Paris, turns out to be even more than he imagined. Dido and Harry are part of a cast of eccentric, utterly, beguiling characters, all transplants from elsewhere, who form an unlikely group of colleagues at the station. Their loves and longings, their rivalries and entanglements, the stories of their pas and what brought each of them to the North, are gradually revealed in this compelling, irresistible novel from one of Canada's most highly acclaimed writers.

My Rating: 8/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall I really enjoyed this book. The author is a superb author and story teller. I was easily pulled into the book and had trouble putting it down at times. The story itself is a bit slow moving, as it follows the characters thorough their lives up in the Northwest Territories. I found the characters to be well done, a very eclectic cast of characters. I don’t really have any favourites, and there were times I couldn’t really connect to them on a level where I could really understand their hardships etc, but they were still well done, and there were moments and events that happened to certain characters that shocked me. All in all, they characters were well developed, and handled with care. They all had so many layers, I do think there are a lot of readers out there who would easily be able to connect them, more so than myself.

I love how the story portrays the lifestyle of the Canadian North. The author does such a fantastic job at panting the beauty and ugliness of the north, in all aspects of living their (climate, employment, etc). The second half of the book is by far my favourite; I loved the journey through the “wild” north, and the relationships that were built from it. The author does a good job t describing the setting, but not overdoing it - the reader will easily be able to get the sounds and vision of the Northwest Territories in their heads when they read this book.

My only complaints is bit of the characterization above, and it isn’t a huge issue, I just hoped to be able to connect more to the characters, and that the first half of the book moves slowly. It’s not painfully slow, by any stretch of the means, but compared to the second half of the book, it is a slower pace. Other than that, it was a wonderful book. I love Elizabeth Hay’s writing style, something about it just adds something extra to the whole reading experience. I plan on reading more by her very soon.

Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend it to read. I found it to be a well written book, by a very talented author. Had a solid story, and characterization. It may move a little slow, but it's worth reading.

What to read next: Yellowknife would be a good choice (it also takes place in the Northwest Territories.) Also, the writing style and some themes from the book also reminded me of David Adams Richards, so I'd also recommend his work.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A- Z Challenge, New Author Challenge, 4th Canadian Challenge


  1. I had not heard of this book before, but you make it sound so compelling! I like that the characters are so multi-layered and nuanced, and that it portrays both the beauty and ugliness of a life that I know very little about. Jules, this was a wonderful review, and I am adding this book to my wish list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it with us!

  2. Zibilee - I hadn't heard of it either, until someone mentioned it on a LibraryThing group forum. It looked good so I picked up a copy. And it turned out to be a fantastic read. It's was a great book, hopefully you get a chance to read it soon.