“You heard it here first – this is the best novel on the fall list…”
— Patricia Robertson, The Calgary Herald
— Charlotte Gray, The National Post
As rich and varied as the landscape it so lovingly evokes, When Alice Lay Down with Peter is a glorious, intimate epic of love and rebellion; a grand comedy; an erotic, witty and inventive historical novel that spans a century.
Alice falls in love with Peter in Orkney in the 1860s and pursues him to the New World. They join the rebellion against the Canadian acquisition of Manitoba and fight on the side of the charismatic Métis leader, Louis Riel. While not Métis themselves, they prefer the company of rebels and outcasts to the men who are invading from the east. Alice participates in the political execution of Thomas Scott, an odious Orangeman who is determined to destroy Riel and crush his followers. Thereafter, she is haunted by Scott’s ghost.
Alice lies down with Peter in a storm of lightning and hail, the catalyst for the conception of Blondie, the wry narrator of the novel. Blondie lives for 109 years – much of it in love with Eli the buffalo-hunter-turned-singing-cowboy – and her tale covers four generations, three wars, two rebellions, a couple of labour strikes and countless insurrections, both political and domestic. She experiences many losses over the years, losses that belong to us all: the extinction of the buffalo; the diminishment of the environment; and the inevitable attrition of loved ones.
Always possessed of an eccentric wisdom, inspired by a passionate interest in the transfiguration of things, big and small, this is a novel of change, and the hauntings that reward our choosing to remember our own history.”Winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Award and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year.