The Perpetual Ending

Publisher: Vintage Canada
From a writer acclaimed for her “probing, idiosyncratic intelligence and emotional generosity” (Calgary Herald), comes a deeply imagined novel that takes us into the lives of devoted twin sisters and their world of opposites, doppelgängers and ghosts.

Jane and Eugenie Ingrams are mirror-image twins, and thus exact opposites. Halves of a whole, they are inseparable, each understanding her world through the other. But when Lucy, their artistic mother, moves her daughters from Deep River to Toronto (leaving behind a bewildered husband), she finds she can’t entirely escape the remains of their troubled marriage.

Eugenie thrives in the jumble of urban life, but Jane is sickened by its underside: the mess of lost souls who live on the streets, the garbage, the noise and the violence. When their father eventually seeks them out, Jane is relieved for the chance to go back to Deep River. Eugenie agrees to return for the sake of her beloved sister -- a soon-to-be-tragic concession.

Years later, Jane is a writer in Vancouver, living with her lover, Simon, a gifted illustrator. Although troubled by her past, she finds solace (and commercial success) in the rich, fabulist tales she and Simon create -- which are expertly woven throughout the book -- tales of people born with extraordinary qualities: horns, the gift of prophesy, spiderweb hair or unquenchable thirst.

Wondrous, inventive and brimming with charm, The Perpetual Ending is an exploration of love and artistry that shows the world as a whole, in all its grotesqueness and beauty. And it uncovers the surprising ways we sometimes arrive at the heart of one story through the telling of others.

From the Hardcover edition.


One and Tother

They were twins born seamless, joined up the sides of their bodies. And yet they were very distinctly two. Four arms and four legs, two heads of yellow hair. One loved the water and Tother did not, and that caused the skin between them to stretch and stretch. One always pulling, longing to swim...
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“Den Hartog reveals a massive imagination in [the] stories-within-stories. Reminiscent of Barbara Gowdy's We So Seldom Look on Love and Sheila Heti's The Middle Stories, the fables are both playful and horrifying, [their] characters strong and wonderful…. And den Hartog is brutally truthful with child Jane's voice…. There are some stunning turns of phrase in this novel…. The Perpetual Ending goes further emotionally than Water Wings, and…achieves a bittersweet finale that will bring many readers to tears…. Worth reading.” -- The Globe and Mail

"A poignant, dreamlike account…. A story of quiet beauty…. Den Hartog spins her tale with a deft hand." -- Kirkus Reviews

"While The Perpetual Ending is very much about loss, it is also a commentary on the resiliency of hope. It is, in the end, a pleasingly uplifting tale. God knows, we could use more of those." -- The Toronto Star

"Beautifully written, this lyrical novel tells the story of lives never fully realized. The narrative is interspersed with magical tales that teach the reader much about truth, family, and love. Recommended for all fiction collections." -- Library Journal

"This is a slow, quiet, thoughtful, sometimes somnolent novel. But one whose ending (yes, you could call it perpetual) somehow gives meaning to the rest, sending you paging back to the beginning of the book…. Kristen den Hartog [has] established herself as a powerful and distinctive Canadian literary voice." -- The Ottawa Citizen

"A troubled Canadian family is the focus of this sensitive debut novel…. [The narrator] Jane’s memories accurately reflect the thoughts and fears of a confused and frightened child, and the plangent tone of sadness is sustained with grace." -- Publisher's Weekly

"Den Hartog’s story is as elegantly simple as it is complex…. An oddly forthright and sharply moving drama of a character bringing her own chaos into order…. Den Hartog shows a serious gift for depicting, with authority, both joy and trauma, clarity and strangeness." -- Denver Post

"Den Hartog is poet-laureate of the dispossessed." -- National Post

Praise for Water Wings:
"Glorious.... A heartening study of people who play the hand life has dealt them with surprising good humour and not a little cunning.... A novel of considerable delicacy." -- National Post

"Exuberant.... A lively, funny read -- sometimes tender, sometimes mordant, often both.... Den Hartog is the mistress of the insightful non sequitur, and she writes about childhood trauma in the same surreal way it actually presents itself in life.... Her writing style is as intricate, as gorgeous -- and as reluctant to settle -- as the butterflies that are her central metaphor." -- Calgary Herald

"Magical.... Den Hartog knows well the insularity of a small town surrounded by the menacing beauty of the natural world." -- The Globe and Mail

"Kristen den Hartog's dark, tender first novel reveals her as a sort of literary younger sister to Alice Munro, plumbing the landscape of small-town southern Ontario to turn up stories of sexual discontent and childhood secrets...dropping shocks into a plot as casually as pebbles from a dock." -- Quill & Quire

From the Hardcover edition.