Wednesday, August 25, 2010
JOYNER'S DREAM by Sylvia Tyson (from the manuscript) forthcoming 2011
Iconic folk musician Sylvia Tyson has penned her first novel and boy is it worth your time.
JOYNER'S DREAM is framed by the present-day narrative of Leslie Fitzhelm, the middle-aged son who has unexpectedly inherited a legacy of secrets and stories when he is reunited with his estranged father in the weeks before his father's death. The conceit is that there is a journal passed down from generation to generation that fills in the details about the contents of "Old Nick's" casket--he's a revered fiddle, if you're wondering.
I especially enjoyed the musical references and the way that the narrative seems to connect seamlessly from generation to generation. Set in Toronto's tony Rosedale neighborhood and in mostly rural England in the 18th-19th-20th centuries, Tyson uses regional dialect sparingly--only to maintain secrecy about Beth's true relationship to Lady Blackwood, her birth mother.
There are reassuring themes that family is who loves you and that stories matter as our way of defining ourselves, providing a legacy and connecting to the wider world.
I got a kick out of the books that the characters read--a decidedly literary set (Jonathan Swift, Thomas Hardy, Sinclair Lewis, and James Joyce), and hope that the end papers will include a hand drawn copy of the composition that gives the book its title when it is published in 2011.