Make Believe Love

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A stalker, a journalist and a librarian converge in small-town Saskatchewan in this brilliantly quirky and entertaining novel of love, obsession and the pursuit of fame.

Broken Head has only one famous resident, and Joan Swift, the local librarian, is about to find out all about him. Darwin Andrew Goodwin hails from nearby Venus, Alberta, and is renowned for stalking Stephanie Rush, a Canadian-born starlet who lives in L.A. with her movie director husband. We learn all about Goodwin's obsession from Joan, and when Joan begins her own sultry affair with Jason Warwick, a new arrival from Toronto who is a reporter for the local newspaper, The Standard, the stage is set for a story filled with surprises.

To spice up small-town life even more, Joan, who bears a striking resemblance to Stephanie Rush, agrees to impersonate the starlet as part of Jason's plan to write a book. Their hope is to entice Goodwin into telling his side of the story to the look-alike. And when Goodwin is charged and Joan shows up in court dressed as Stephanie, the town starts to buzz with rumour and speculation, and Goodwin's own extraordinary tale of love is told.


If you drive west on the Trans-Canada Highway, through a million miles of Precambrian Shield, the great red rocks clawing straight through the earth to confront you with the fact you’ve already crossed beyond the beginnings of your kind and into the lush and smoky world before history; and yet you keep driving,...
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"It is easy to forget, sometimes, that writers write because they are in love with words, their endless combinations, their energy, their echoes, the clues they might provide. In Make Believe Love, Lee Gowan reminds us." —Bonnie Burnard

“Gowan makes some marvellous observations about small- and large-town life [told with] wry, insider wit. [The] tension between what is and what seems to be – unrequited love or scary obsession, fame or notoriety, truth or history – is at the core of this strong first novel.” — Quill & Quire

“Make Believe Love
is lively and entertaining.” — National Post

”Wonderfully comic [with] a quintessentially Saskatchewan touch.… [Gowan] evokes the province in amusing yet loving detail. A fable about love in the electronic age…a romp [with a] breezy style, zippy dialogue and lightly drawn characters.” — The Toronto Star

“Extraordinary…. Make Believe Love arrives as a sly look at modern day celebrity, a whimsical indictment of hero worship in our society, a guileless attack on our obsessions wit fame, a satirical fable for the new millennium…. Gowan handles the comedy deftly…. A quirky read. With his scattergun plot twists and eccentric characterizations, Gowan owes a sizeable debt to American cult favourite Tom Robbins. To his credit, the novel works on many levels. As a caustic critique on celebrity in our times, Make Believe Love is the real deal.” — The Hamilton Spectator

“[A] smart and funny first novel…a lightly caustic comedy that has some startlingly dark things to say about love, intimacy and self-delusion…. Gowan exhibits a sure hand with plotting…. But the most appealing aspect of his writing here is how he sidesteps the sterotypes readers have about the sort of people and places that are scattered across the Prairies.” — Eye Weekly

“[An] offbeat tale…. The characters he creates…are highly imaginative, and the twists and turns the plot takes are more so. [A] fast-paced story…. Gowan sketches in a carefully drawn sense of place…. Engaging.” — The Star Phoenix (Saskatoon)

“Intriguing…skillfully drawn…. Gowan [has a] talent for exceptional characterization…. A worthy read.” — Calgary Herald (Pearl Luke)

“[Gowan] writes with a clean, crisp style and an engaging, well-paced narrative….[An] entertaining read.” — Winnipeg Free Press

“A promising debut…. Gowan’s command of language, his sense of place, his subject matter all make him a writer worth watching–and his main character, Joan Swift, is hard to forget. Most of all, she’s believable even when you’re not sure you believe her.” —The Gazette (Montreal)

“The book is quirky, entertaining and beautifully conveys the languorous atmosphere of the prairie landscape.” — Anne Tobin, Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 1 Apr 2001

“The real pleasures of this book are the dark wit and often striking perceptions that spill from Joan’s pen as she attempts to get real, and get even.” — Jim Bartley, Globe and Mail

Make Believe Love is a comedy that refuses to get cynical or mean. Its daffy story and evenness of temper evoke some of Canadian fiction’s past accomplishments, such as the small-town sketches of early Robertson Davies by way of…Maragret Atwood’s…Lady Oracle…Lee Gowan’s debut is funny and laid-back…shot through with affection…”
Vancouver Sun