Sandra Birdsell

The Chrome Suite

A novel
Emblem Editions, McClelland & Stewart, 2002
Virago Press, 1994
McClelland & Stewart 1992

The Chrome Suite - Book coverSet in Manitoba, the Chrome Suite reaches back nearly four decades into the life of present-day scriptwriter Amy Barber and, layer by layer, uncovers the effects of loss and absence, and of the inadvertent damage that can be done within the most well-meaning of families.

Amy, now in her forties, reconstructs the events that brought her to where she is today. The narrative moves from a small Manitoba town during on extraordinarily hot summer at the close of the 1950s when the death of Amy’s sister changes everything, to the 1960s and the 1970s when Amy marries, goes to live in the city, and begins to have reason to fear for her young son.

Birdsell’s haunting, almost tactile evocation of the dangerous territory of the past is infused with an uneasy nostalgia. And the story of Amy Barber, her parents, Margaret and Timothy, her brother, Mel, and sister, Jill, is paralleled by the present day as Amy travels by car from Toronto to Winnipeg with her younger lover, Piotr, a Polish filmmaker. This is a journey shadowed by the future and by the disturbing presence of a hitchhiker.

The Chrome Suite is an emotionally charged novel of darkness and light. Sandra Birdsell’s unforgettable characters are portrayed as complex, fallible beings and, through them, she explores the private, sometimes cruel realm of relationships and the universal quest for an often elusive self-acceptance.

Vividly descriptive, darkly humorous, erotic, and moving.

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Praise for The Chrome Suite

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