Monday, August 31, 2015

Five Roses / Dundurn Press 2016

In 2016 I will be publishing a new novel, Five Roses, with Dundurn Press in Toronto.

The novel is not about flowers, though one of the characters is called Rose.

The title has to do with the FARINE FIVE ROSES sign which is a landmark on the south-west horizon of Montreal. From 1954 to 1977 the sign included the word FLOUR which was removed in 1977 in accordance with Quebec language laws.

I'm not writing about flour mills either, though the fact that industry once thrived in south-west Montreal is a significant factor. I am a little fascinated with abandoned industrial complexes.

Here's the sign as seen from Pointe St-Charles where the novel is set. It's an inner-city neighbourhood being gentrified as I write. The neighbour a few doors down just had her brick redone. From another direction I can hear floors being sanded. Another neighbour is gutting the ground floor of his duplex. My novel takes place in the early 2000s when the process of gentrification in The Pointe was gearing up. For better or worse.

The setting of abandonment and appropriation reflects the loss and recovery the characters in the novel experience. A sister kills herself, a baby is lost, a mother dies. I'm giving nothing away here. These events have already happened. I want to know how the characters move on after a suicide, a lost baby, a death. There's no such thing as ghosts and yet. A house stands empty for a year. Two boys eat from a can of ravioli. One woman shows another how to fashion a rose out of marzipan. A loom is rescued. A baby howls with hunger. A chickadee pecks bagel crumbs from a young woman's hand. A man spies through gaps in a wooden fence. Rooms in an old house get a fresh coat of paint. There's cycling by the St. Lawrence River, a game of strip poker in a basement, a man practising fishing in the grass, a large orange cat. A woman climbs a rope ladder up the tower of a derelict factory.

I've tried not to overdo the number of times that characters notice the FARINE FIVE ROSES sign in the sky, but I've been interested in the sign since before I moved to the Pointe. I have a FIVE ROSES T-shirt. If I had a cellphone, I would get a FIVE ROSES cellphone cover. Are there FIVE ROSES lighters? FIVE ROSES jeans? Does someone have an old FIVE ROSES burlap flour sack?

That's a photocopy of an illustration in a 1940s cookbook my mother-in-law had. When I first saw it, I knew I wanted a copy. It was long enough ago that I had a hard time finding a place that made colour photocopies. At the time I didn't know what I meant to write about it, but I knew I would.

Not so long ago a friend sent me this in the mail.

It's the back of a Five Roses cookbook that she found at a farmer's market in Victoria, BC. The cookbook dates from 1962.

There are recipes for Whipped Cream Topping for Pies. (Silly me, I never knew I needed a recipe for that.)
Croquettes with this enticing description: "Five Roses Croquettes, with their crisp brown deliciousness, are a delightful food."
Witches Bonnets. This is a dessert and that's how it's written. No apostrophe.
Supper Snack--to be made with "White Sauce No. 2".


  1. I am so excited about this novel! Having had a 'sneak preview' I still think about many of its resonant moments, including the scenes in the old factory. And I'm thrilled to see the cookbook made the blog!!

  2. Thanks, Anita! Thanks for the cookbook--and for helping those moment resonate with your insightful comments.

  3. Juste round two dives roses 98lbs bag iun my wall !!

    1. I guess it's not possible, but I would love to see them.