In a drought-ridden Saskatchewan of the 1930s, self-possessed, enigmatic Elena Huhtala finds herself living alone, a young Finnish woman in a community of Swedes in the small village of Trevna. Her mother has been dead for many years, and her father, burdened by the hardships of drought, has disappeared, and the eighteen-year-old is an object of pity and charity in her community. But when a stranger shows up at a country dance, Elena needs only one look and one dance before jumping into his Lincoln Roadster, leaving the town and its shocked inhabitants behind. What follows is a trip through the prairie towns, their dusty streets, shabby hotel rooms, surrounded by dry fields that stretch out vastly, waiting for rain. Elena's journey uncovers the individual stories of an unforgettable group of people, all of whom are in one way or another affected by her seductive yet innocent presence. At the centre is Ruth, a girl whose life becomes changed in unexpected ways. She and the girl Elena, distanced and apart, form a strange bond that will come to haunt the decades for them both. Written in luminous prose, threaded through with a sardonic wit and deep wisdoms, A Beauty is at one time lyrical and tough, moving and mysterious, a captivating tale of a woman who, without intending to, touches many lives, and sometimes alters them forever.
“Connie Gault locates the kernel of solitary pain at the heart of our romance with romance in this scintillating novel about inventing oneself out of the glowing prairie dust.” – Elizabeth Hay
“This radiant novel is filled with vivid life: startling, clear, and real. Connie Gault’s unadorned, transparent prose and her ruthless but loving intelligence make her one of Canada’s very best writers.”
– Marina Endicott, author of Good to a Fault
“Gault’s prose is so evocative she makes readers homesick for the land, even those who’ve never ridden across the Prairies under a setting sun…. Characters are richly drawn, their lives woven together as the years pass…. A Beauty is a novel of loss, longing and love. Sometimes the love isn’t expressed in words but in the silences that hang between repressed souls who yearn to be understood — and so seldom are.” – Toronto Star
“Gault… has that rare talent that makes every character important, no matter how apparently peripheral their role in the story.” – Globe and Mail
“The novel brings to mind faint echoes of small-town life as portrayed in Dianne Warren’s Cool Water as well as the Prairie dustbowl in Elizabeth Hay’s A Student of Weather…. This poignant novel about ordinary people has much to offer – vivid characterization, a compelling story and an exploration of universal themes such as loss, belonging and the nature of forgiveness.” – Winnipeg Free Press
From the Hardcover edition.