Enter the world of Jimmy–a tall, red-haired, homeless thirty-something ex-soldier, battered by PTSD–as he camps out on the streets of modern-day Montreal, trying to remember and reclaim his youth. While his past is something of an enigma, even to himself, the young man bears a striking resemblance to General James Wolfe, “Conqueror of Canada” and “Hero of Quebec,” who died on the Plains of Abraham in 1759.
As a young soldier in his twenties, the historical James Wolfe (1727-1759) was granted a short and much longed-for leave to travel to Paris to study poetry, music and dance–three of his passions. But in that very year, 1752, the British Empire abandoned the Julian calendar for the Gregorian, and every citizen of England lost eleven days: September 2 was followed by September 14. These lost eleven days happened to occur during the period that Wolfe had been granted for his leave. Despondent and bitter, he never got the chance to explore his artistic bent, and seven short years later, on the anniversary of this foreshortened leave, he died on the Plains of Abraham.
Now, James is getting his eleven days back . . . but instead of the salons of 18th century Paris, he’s wandering the streets of present-day Montreal and Quebec City, not as “the Hero of Quebec” but as a damaged war veteran wracked with anguish. Much like George Saunders in Lincoln in the Bardo, award-winning author Kathleen Winter takes a brief, intensely personal incident in the life of a famous historical figure, and using her incomparable gifts as a fiction writer, powerfully re-imagines him. Here is a wrenching, unforgettable portrait–like none you have ever seen or read–of one of the most well-known figures in Canadian history.
About the author
Kathleen Winter’s novel Annabel was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Orange Prize, and numerous other awards. It was also a Globe and Mail “Best Book,” a New York Times “Notable” book, a Quill & Quire “Book of the Year” and #1 bestseller in Canada. It has been published and translated worldwide. Her Arctic memoir Boundless (2014) was shortlisted for Canada’s Weston and Taylor non-fiction prizes and has been sold internationally. The Freedom in American Songs (Stories, Biblioasis) also came out in 2014. Born in the UK, Winter lives in Montreal after many years in Newfoundland.
General James Wolfe – perhaps? – British commander at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, wanders the streets of present-day Montreal, homeless and apparently suffering from PTSD.