Today I am to be hosting the blog tour for The Republic of Love by Carol Shields.
On love and the absence of love
A celebration of love in its many guises, The Republic of Love
recounts the heartfelt tale of two of life’s unlucky lovers: Fay, a
folklorist whose passion for mermaids has kept her from focusing on
any one man; and, right across the street, Tom, a popular radio talk-
show host who’s been through three marriages and divorces in his
search for true happiness.
Touching and ironic, The Republic of Love
flies the flag for ordinary love between ordinary people.
There is something rather wonderful about discovering an author for the first time, especially when there is a full body of work for you to explore. I had never read any of Carol Shields work until now, her writing hadn’t found it’s way into my hands and it has made me now wonder how on earth I have missed out on it all this time. The Republic of Love was originally published in 1992 and was ‘her first literary breakthrough…in terms of audience size’. This stunningly designed new edition has been published by World Editions. The whole novel is an absolute joy, from cover design and typography, to Shield’s wonderful words. It is one of those books that just makes you feel better when it is in your hands.
The foreword by Margaret Atwood was first published in the Guardian Newspaper after Carol Shield’s death in July 2003. It sums up eloquently and with real affection Carol’s impact both on the written word and on the lives she touched – and continues to do so.
It was the extraordinariness of ordinary people that was Shield’s forte…She gave her material the full benefit of her large intelligence, her powers of observation, her humane wit, and her wide reading. Her books are delightful, in the original sense of the word: they are full of delights.Margaret Atwood
This is also the overwhelming impression I also perceived whilst reading. She has the ability to find the magic in the ordinary, the things that many of us barely notice as we rush through our busy lives. I’m afraid I am still reading the book as I write this review. It is a whopper at over 400 pages long and I just couldn’t bring myself to rush through in time for my spot on the blog tour. I’m enjoying it too much.
Carol allows us to get to know Tom and Fay before they even meet and then we get to watch their story unfold as they navigate the complexities of everyday life and love. The writing is beautiful, exquisite, something I want to linger over. It is wonderful watching the story unfold. I can almost envisage Tom and Faye passing each other on the street but never quite meeting, until of course they do – just when they were meant to. Carol’s story building and her style of writing made me think a little of Nora Ephron in some ways. There is a classic quality to the writing, something that will resonate with any generation. The type of writing that looks at what it really means to be human. We are all here for such a brief time, Carol’s legacy is a close observation of what happens during our brief time on earth. The ‘ordinary’ person who lives their life quietly is celebrated here and Carol shows us that each and every one of those ordinary lives are actually nothing but extraordinary after all.
It has been an absolute joy to discover Carol’s writing and I look forward to reading more of her work. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and to the lovely team at World Editions for this beautiful new edition of The Republic of Love, I now look forward to collecting the other three titles as I begin my new love affair with the writing of Carol Shields. I am in love and I can’t wait to read more!
About the author
Carol Shields (1935–2003) was born in the United States, and emigrated to Canada when she was 22. She is acclaimed for her empathetic and witty, yet penetrating insights into human nature. Her most famous novel The Stone Diaries was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, along with the Governor General’s Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. Happenstance was praised as her tour de force, masterly
combining two novels in one. The international bestseller Mary Swann was awarded with the Arthur Ellis Award for best Canadian mystery. In 2020, the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, a North American literary award dedicated to writing by women, was set up in her honor. Her work has been published in over 30 languages.
You can discover more about Carol by visiting the official Carol Shields website here.
You can order a copy of The Republic of Love through your local bookshop or online. Visit the publisher, World Editions for online stockists or you can order via Hive.co.uk or Bookshop.Org and also support independent bookshops.
The Republic of Love is one of the titles on my 50 classics in Five Years list with the Classics Club – I may now have to take another look at my list and add a few more titles by Carol Shields. 🙂