Tuesday, April 10

Book Review: Agassiz Stories

Title: Agassiz Stories

Author: Sandra Birdsell

Pages:  353

Summary: The superbly crafted stories in this internationally acclaimed collection trace four generations of the Lafrenière family in the fictional small town of Agassiz, Manitoba, from the time of the great flood in 1950 to the present. There is Mika, the matriarch of the family, tired of being a mother to her children, and her Métis husband, Maurice, who is by turns fascinated by and ashamed of his Native heritage. Their marriage has long been an uneasy truce. As their children grow up to pursue their own lives, the frustrations of one generation will collide with the dreams of another, and the past will leave an indelible mark on all that is to come. 

My Rating: 7.25/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was a fairly enjoyable read, I wouldn't say it's a favourite of mine, but I did like the way the author unfolded the book using short stories spaced throughout the generations of a family to tell the story - rather than use it in a novel format.

Although there are some gaps in the timeline of the characters, I really enjoyed how the story was told. I found it interesting to have the novel told in short stories at different points in the lives of the characters which included multiple generations of the family. The author did a fantastic job at showcasing the different hardships and struggles a family will face, the book did feel a little grey at times, but I think it worked for the book and it's characters.

I did find that the characters and plot could be easily forgotten. While the writing and the way the author created the plot was interesting and how she created a very realistic cast of characters, I did find it easy to drift away from the book and the plot was boring at times. It needed a little extra hook to make it from a good read, to a great one - either the characters, writing or a plot twist, it was just missing something extra to bring it out to something great.

Would I recommend it to read: I would, the writing was good. I enjoyed the stories, and the exploration of the characters inner thoughts and growth - if you enjoy this type of book, than it's a good choice for you.
What to read next: The writing, content and the exploration and journey of the characters reminded me of another Canadian Author, David Adams Richards - so he might be a good place to start. A Bird in the House by Margaret Laurence also by a Manitoban author also who also wrote a "novel" through a collection of short stories.


  1. There are so many books that are good, but that are just shy of being great, and this sounds like one of them. I have to admit that I am intrigued by the premise, and that cover certainly is eye-catching, but ultimately, the fact that you didn't absolutely love it will probably keep me from reading it.I enjoyed this thoughtful and candid review. Thanks for sharing it, Jules!

    1. Yes, that is very true, good but just not great. It was an interesting premise with multiple short stories to tell the story as a whole. It's not for everyone, but still may be worth checking out one day.