by Myrna Dey
Find at your local bookstore
978-1-897126-68-4 | 2010 April | 36 Pages
ABOUT THIS BOOK
- Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize!
A chance discovered of a sepia photograph of her grandmother and her twin sister leads RCMP Constable Arabella Dryvynsydes on an investigation: how did a picture taken in 1914 in the mining town of Extension, BC end up at a garage sale in rural Saskatchewan almost one hundred years later?
As Arabella sifts through caches of long-forgotten letters and buried memories, she unearths the heartbreaking truths of her family history — and in the process also resolves a century-old murder.
In her debut novel, Dey skillfully moves back and forth between two time periods and two memorably resourceful heroines, each of whom must rise to challenges the other could never imagine.
I only spotted the photo because Gail stopped to talk to her son’s hockey coach. He was a moose of a guy, like one of our regulars in cells who required three men to restrain. Or, as the joke goes, one woman.
While they discussed Mighty Mite registration, I busied myself in a dark corner of the garage. A shoebox full of pictures was going for three dollars—cheap gold plastic frames with calendar prints of kittens, flowers, babies, plus the one that caught my eye. It was an old sepia photo of twin girls, about four or five, dressed for a formal pose in long ruffled dresses with big bows in their ringlets and black lace-up boots. It looked exactly like one my grandmother had given me of her and her sister. Hardly possible coming from a home here in rural Saskatchewan, but I couldn’t resist the urge to compare them.
“I just want the one picture,” I said to the large woman sitting at the cash table. “Here’s three dollars for it.”
“Three dollars for the whole box.”
“I don’t want the whole box.” I thought I was doing her a favour by allowing the box to sell twice, but her expression told me I knew nothing about garage sales.
Seeing us, Gail pulled away from the hockey coach and came to my rescue. “She’s flying, Joyce. She doesn’t need any more baggage. This is my friend Bella from Vancouver—Constable Dryvynsydes. She and Monty trained together.”
I winced that Gail had to work in the “Constable,” but kept a friendly smile on my face. Joyce nodded without returning the smile. When she accepted my three dollars, I felt I had cleared customs with an undeclared pair of shoes on my feet.
“Whose stuff is this?” Gail asked.
“Multi-family, looks like Cindy Mingus,” said Joyce, distracted by a woman behind us who seemed eager to transfer a Crock-Pot and an armful of jigsaw puzzles to the table.
Gail and I moved out of the garage and down the driveway as fast as we could, leaving the carton of gilt-edged pictures behind. Before we reached the safety of Gail’s minivan, Joyce bellowed, “Don’t forget the bake sale!”
Gail let out an exaggerated sigh. “You didn’t have to buy anything. I just wanted to give you a sample of local colour. What we do for recreation here in the boonies.”
I studied the picture again. “I wanted this. It looks like one Sara gave me—you must have seen it. The only evidence she had of a twin sister. I’ll dig mine out when I get home, if I can ever find it.” I stared at the bows on the girls’ heads—one straight and neat, the other floppy. Sara said her floppy bow was the only way she could tell herself from her sister. “But there’s no way they could be the same. Sara’s was taken in Nanaimo.”
“The exploration of a character's identity through the prism of an ancestor's life is a popular conceit in Canadian literature, but Dey injects new life into it. Extensions is an engrossing story that includes sex and romance, murder and larceny, and a smattering of Canadian history.”
~ Christina Decarie, Quill & Quire
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