100 MILE BOOK CLUB: Objects of Affection a comforting, poignant read

Book review of Kelowna author Julie Cosgrave's Objects of Affection.

The world of publishing is changing.

It used to be true that self-published novels were of a lesser quality than ones distributed by traditional publishing houses.

The quality of self-published books can still vary greatly, but with the general decline of publishing houses, I seem to find more self-published gems coming across my desk.

The most recent example is Objects of Affection, by Kelowna author Julie Cosgrave. This is a delightful and delicately-detailed novel.

Pauline, a 35-year-old mother, lives in a rented duplex in Vancouver. She works part-time, has a husband with a desk job and a young daughter in school.

On the surface, life is moving along as though according to some sort of plan. But Pauline is at a pivotal moment in her life.

If she continues along this path, her family’s next move will be to the outer suburbs where they can afford to buy their own home.

The prospect of this move, a cookie-cutter home and a long commute weighs on Pauline. It’s at this point that Arthur, a 70-year-old free spirit, moves in next door. An unlikely friendship begins, and Pauline awakens to new possibilities and directions.

“Many of us long for a mentor, a person in our life who has nothing to gain from being our friend,” explains Cosgrave. “Arthur is that friend for Pauline.”

Arthur has made plenty of mistakes in his life. The question becomes: Will Pauline follow a path similar to his and will this new friendship change the course of her life completely?

Objects of Affection is a gentle, lyrical novel that gains its power through pondering ideas and lingering over telling details.

As the title suggests, Cosgrave delves into the mystery of why some objects speak to us.

“Why do we become attached to an object such as a broken cup or a map?” she wonders. “What compels us to become attached? And what does it mean?”

Cosgrave also has a wonderful ability to recreate a sense of place. Objects of Affection is set in Vancouver, and, for those of us who have spent time at the coast, her descriptions will seem exacting: the comfort of pattering rain, the swish of cars driving down a narrow street, the fall of fat leaves and chestnuts onto wet sidewalks.

Cosgrave’s gentle writing is strongly reminiscent of one of my favourite Canadian writers, Beth Powning. Objects of Affection is a similarly comforting and poignant read as Powning’s widely popular novel The Hatbox Letters.

Objects of Affection is distributed by Penticton’s Red Tuque Books, and is available at Hooked on Books in Penticton, Mosaic Books in Kelowna, and on amazon.com and amazon.ca.

Heather Allen is a reader and writer living in Penticton.