The Whirlpool

Publisher: Emblem Editions
Written in luminous prose, The Whirlpool is a haunting tale set in Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the summer of 1889. This is the season of reckless river stunts, a time when the undertaker’s widow is busy with funerals, her days shadowed by her young son’s curious silence. Across the street in Kick’s Hotel, where Fleda and her husband, David McDougal, have temporary rooms, Fleda dreams of the place above the whirlpool where she first encountered the poet, a man who enters her life and, unwittingly, changes everything. As the summer progresses, the lives of these characters become entangled, and darker, more sinister currents gain momentum.

The Whirlpool, Jane Urquhart’s first novel, received Le prix du meilleur livre étranger (Best Foreign Book Award) in France and marked the brilliant debut of a major voice in Canadian fiction.


At Halstead in England, during the last half of the nineteenth century, employees at Courtauld Limited wove secret cloth on secret looms in secret factories. Warp, woof . . . warp, woof. Like makers of Venetian glass they were devoted to their craft and frightened of their masters. They took, therefore, the coveted recipe...
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“A spell-binder, in the literal sense…Urquhart has brilliantly evoked the texture of a late Victorian summer and created within it a strange, yet entirely believable tale of obsession.”
–Sandra Gwyn

“A tightrope walk across the marvellous.…In a tour de force of Canadian fiction, she plunges into the mysterious whirlpool of our collective psyches.”
Canadian Fiction Magazine

“A jewel of a book: its finely polished facets are full of light, yet suggest numerous depths.”
Globe and Mail

“She is clearly a courageous stylist with a unique vision.”
–Timothy Findley