Leaving Wisdom
Thistledown Press / 25 May 2023

Leaving Wisdomby Sharon ButalaPublished by Thistledown PressReview by Toby A. Welch$24.95 ISBN 9781771872362 I first fell in love with Sharon Butala’s writing in the 90s when someone gifted me a copy of her #1 best-selling book The Perfection of the Morning. Since then, I have followed her writing journey closely, devouring almost all of the 20+ books she has penned. Butala’s ability to craft a story that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page continues with her latest book, Leaving Wisdom. This is a fascinating novel centered around an intriguing character named Judith. The mother of four adult children, Judith is headed to her own retirement party when she slips on a patch of ice. She whacks her head and suffers a life-altering concussion. Struggling to recover and deal with the memories that her fall seems to have dislodged, she moves from big town Alberta to small town Saskatchewan to be closer to the family farm. What ensues is a wild journey filled with unanswered questions and a woman’s quest for the truth. The book is divided into three parts: Wisdom, Sage, and Jerusalem. Hesitant to give away too much, I’ll just say that the third part…

Zara’s Dead
Coteau Books / 12 July 2018

Zara’s Dead by Sharon Butala Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $24.95 ISBN 9-781550-509472 She’s penned multiple novels, short fiction collections, plays, and non-fiction, including the highly popular The Perfection of the Morning (a Governor General’s Award finalist), and Sharon Butala’s showing no signs of slowing down. If anything, the longtime Saskatchewan author (who now lives in Calgary) is, in fact, stretching her literary chops: her latest title, Zara’s Dead, is a mystery. A new genre for this household-name writer, but the subject-the unsolved rape and murder of a beautiful young woman in the 1960s-is one the talented author’s previously explored. Butala’s readers will recall her non-fiction book The Girl in Saskatoon-about the murder of her high school friend, Alexandra Wiwcharuk- and there are several parallels between that real-life tragedy and the compelling plot of Zara’s Dead. Like Wiwcharuk, fictional Zara is a lovely and vivacious young woman enjoying life in a prairie city, and when she’s murdered the killer’s never found. The narrator in Butala’s mystery-Fiona Lychenko, a newspaper columnist who published a book about Zara’s decades-old death and the clouds of mystery still surrounding it-was friends with the victim. Now seventy, widowed, and living restlessly…

Wild Rose
Coteau Books / 18 September 2015

Wild Rose by Sharon Butala Published by Coteau Books Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $21.95 ISBN 9-781550-506365 After completing Sharon Butala’s epic new novel Wild Rose, I closed the book and thought: This is why she’s on CanLit’s “A” list. If you’re in the mood for getting completely swept up in a female pioneer’s adventure–and this means fully empathizing with the young Québécois idealist, Sophie, as she sets out in 1884 for the West and the freedom it signifies–then buckle up, because Butala assuredly leads readers back in time to a landscape where “the sun [pours] itself over everything: horses, the hats of the men, the few women’s entangling skirts, the children’s round eager faces, the …already weathered false-fronted buildings, piles of all kinds of goods on the ground from walking plows to stained sacks … to the teams of horses, the train itself …”. Butala has a masterly way with landscape, making it, too, feel like a character you enjoy spending time with. Given her many years of living on the Prairies-plus the fine craft she’s already demonstrated with sixteen highly-revered titles, including GG-nominated fiction and nonfiction-she comes by this gift honestly. This is a writer who’s experienced “a…

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