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A Beauty [PDF / Epub] ☁ A Beauty By Connie Gault – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk In a drought ridden Saskatchewan of the 1930s self possessed enigmatic Elena Huhtala finds herself living alone a young Finnish woman in a community of Swedes in the small village of Trevna Her mother In a drought ridden Saskatchewan of the s self possessed enigmatic Elena Huhtala finds herself living alone a young Finnish woman in a community of Swedes in the small village of Trevna Her mother has been dead for many years and her father burdened by the hardships of drought has disappeared and the eighteen year old is an object of pity and charity in her community But when a stranger shows up at a country dance Elena needs only one look and one dance before jumping into his Lincoln Roadster leaving the town and its shocked inhabitants behind What follows is a trip through the prairie towns their dusty streets shabby hotel rooms surrounded by dry fields that stretch out vastly waiting for rain Elena's journey uncovers the individual stories of an unforgettable group of people all of whom are in one way or another affected by her seductive yet innocent presence At the centre is Ruth a girl whose life becomes changed in unexpected ways She and the girl Elena distanced and apart form a strange bond that will come to haunt the decades for them both Written in luminous prose threaded through with a sardonic wit and deep wisdoms A Beauty is at one time lyrical and tough moving and mysterious a captivating tale of a woman who without intending to touches many lives and sometimes alters them forever.

10 thoughts on “A Beauty

  1. Jennifer Jennifer says:

    so i think this book would have been a better read for me under two circumstances1 if i was reading this in the summer time this story is mostly set on the saskatchewan prairies during summer it was hot stinking sweating hot the novel is anchored in the drought and economic depression of the 1920s30s the wheat was roasting the locusts were swarming the people were wilting in the heat because i love to read to the season i just felt hyper aware of the weather given we are under an extreme cold alert here in toronto2 if the mirror device was not relied upon so freuentlyawkwardly sigh mirrors are relied upon a lot in this story once i could have been okay with forgiven or gotten past but three different characters have three different moments at a mirror plus there are a couple of mentions of mirrors in passing so that was a bit of overkill for me and distractingthose points aside gault has a lovely uiet way with her writing she was certainly able to evoke the characters places and times for me i found this novel read as a collection of connected short stories individually chapters which are denoted by a town's setting are often fairly strong as a whole i found it a bit awkward in its flowthe choice of the narrator is interesting too and i am still thinking on this trying to figure out how i feel the narrator is ruth when we first meet her she is an 11yo girl and she grows with us through the read but she isn't the main character and it does leave open the uestion of how she's come to know all of the details revealed in the book at the end uick connections are made between ruth and a couple of characters but i didn't feel that uite worked for mei have highlighted a number of passages moments when i felt gault was spot on in identifying human nature i think gault has a keen eye and i bet she's a great listener as she notes in the novel Speak a little hear a lot that's a Finnish proverb

  2. Susan Susan says:

    This is beautifully written and evocative of the 1930s in the Prairies Character development is strong I could only give it three stars however because not very much happens in the novel and it becomes tedious toward the end I wish it had been better

  3. J. Robinson J. Robinson says:

    Faulkner once said that there is nothing worth writing about except the human heart in conflict with itself and A Beauty is a testament to that view Unsatisfied desire regret the road not taken—these human sorrows inform Connie Gault’s novel But so do the roads taken the resulting accompanying pleasures the sated desires the mysteries uncoveredElena Huhtala 18 is the teen aged “beauty” of the title envied and admired by the other girls and men in the small prairie town of Trevna in southern Saskatchewan The reader first sees Elena she is sitting on a swing presented like a classical silhouette against the setting sun She is sitting idly swinging gently When Elena hops off the swing and approaches the neighbour’s wagon the novel is set in motion Elena climbs up on the wagon to get a ride to the dance at Liberty Hall she hadn’t wanted to attend She just doesAt the dance a stranger a city boy in expensive clothes Bill Long arrives in a big gold Lincoln roadster and Elena leaves with him Together they set out on the road going anywhere it takes them This is not however a uest motif novel; Elena is not driven by desire or specific goals or even much than the vague longing of someone who has lost everything and doesn’t know what will happen next Her story is about escape and survivalAs Elena and Bill travel Elena discovers her path as she goes allowing the reader the opportunity to enter the lives of other eually engaging prairie individuals in a “slice of life” form of approach as they stop and stay in a number of other small hot dusty dying prairie towns—the towns are only 7 miles apart along the railway Each of the stops provides opportunity for “slice of life” realism in narratives which could be short stories in their own right The pair of skinny bantering worn out hotel owners; the balding fireman with the wife in prison and his lover who runs the local ladies’ fashion store; the Chinese restaurant owners and staff; the bright and ebullient young girl walking down the tracks who will take over the narrative from time to time with her clear strong first person voice They have their own stories their own matters of the human heart needing attention and we are made privy to those mattersElena is a mysterious elusory character and yet at the same time she is not particularly exceptional or unusual except in her remarkable beauty At the beginning Elena a famished girl of Finnish descent has been reduced to nothing—she is “dirt poor” in the 30s when it really meant dirt poor Her father’s farm can no longer sustain life There is nothing left to eat and Elena is utterly alone—her mother died when she was two; her father vanished in despair 5 weeks ago She is of the local community but not of it—and her father kept them on the fringes of the Finnish community Even her dress is brown and faded as the pervasive dust as she walks through the drought ridden brown and faded landscape Her only asset is her beauty She is compared to Helen of Troy And to Garbo who larger than life has escaped an ordinary predictable life and found a glamourous extravagant one up on the silver screen with a handsome leading man Going to the dance and entering Liberty Hall she joins a la Northrop Frye the community moves from outside to inside potentially from isolation to integration—but she stays only long for a young man Bill to show up in expensive clothes driving a large gold Lincoln roadster The tall dark stranger who rides into town and takes off the most beautiful girl in town They are not larger than life except in other’ perceptions of them—dreams of freedom escape from the parched landscape from the hopelessness of life in the drought when so much is out of one’s control and the effects ripple outward blowing dust So many of the characters reveal that they wish they could leave wish they weren’t tied or trapped or somehow otherwise fixed to where they live The women long to be like the female movie stars; the young men want to drive off into the sunset in a fancy car with a pretty malleable girl who adores you or soon will at your side After she’s gone Elena becomes an almost mythical figure for the people who don’t escape; she is the one who is offered a way to leave; she is the one who “gets away” But as the reader discovers she is also one who decades later in her own way ends up coming homeA Beauty may be mostly Elena’s story but it is also the story of the very land she emerges from the people she comes from and the longing for escape from the monotony and limitations of their lives It is the story of everyone who has felt loss discontent and longing In other words everyoneIf you like to read realism tinged with a faint magic if you like character if you like beautifully drawn prairie landscapes peopled sparsely by characters rendered in careful clear prose you will happily immerse yourself in this novel you will feel the reverberations between the land and the people who live on that land Readers who have lived long in the city may feel only faint echoes that evoke traces of that connection to the land while those who have known and loved that prairie land and those people will feel a deeper and poignant kind of longing and recollection I am one of the latterI’ve known Connie Gault’s work for a long time—her plays her short stories her first novel Euphoria Marina Endicott aptly dubbed Gault “the Canadian Dickens” for that book and now her second novel A Beauty I have been and remain a huge fan of Gault’s work and admire her skill her insight her humour her compassion for her characters and her uniue and pleasing writing style There is no one uite like A Beauty’s Elena Huhtala and there is no writer uite like Connie Gault

  4. GinaRose Cristello GinaRose Cristello says:

    Sometimes what is unsaid is powerful than what is said A Beauty completely exemplifies this Love the prarie setting both barren and yet rich with character Connie Gault has this way of constructing sentences so witty and sharp you are constantly being surprised from the beginning to the end of a phrase They twist and turn and you are constantly being caught off guard Loved it

  5. Krista Krista says:

    I kind of loved A Beauty by Connie Gault Set in the 1930s dustbowl of rural Saskatchewan and then revisiting the same small towns three decades later Gault uses a homespun Prairie voice to make piercing observations about life and love and family and loss There's a sneaky magic to this book I found the storyline to be compelling – not because there was some big mystery or urgent climax – but because I had gotten to know the characters well enough to have really cared about how they all turn out And that's saying something when the main character doesn't go around saying much at allWe start in the small community of Trevna at a country dance where all the gossips are catching up on the latest the failed Finnish farmer an outsider in an enclave of Swedish immigrants has abandoned his 18 year old daughter; walking off the farm and taking nothing with him but his rifle The older women cluck and the young women giggle out of a mix of superiority and jealousy for the daughter Elena has always been a mystery to them You couldn't say she was always pretty but she was always great Grand that was the word And she was prettier than Greta Garbo maybe to start with; Aggie thought she wasAggie watched Elena standing alone by the door kind of floating there as if she'd forgotten anyone could see her In that old faded limp brown dress The girl was dirt poor She had only the one dress and when she washed it God knew what she did to be decent in front of her father She had no mother and she didn't pretend otherwise Maybe that was the very thing that made her so grand – she didn't pretend about anything Soon enough a strange man appears at the dance and attention turns to him The stranger waited near the door for a while lounging against the wall with a friendly expression on a face that looked as if it naturally fell into friendly lines He wasn't in a hurry He waited there until people got used to the idea of him He'd obviously come to country dances before He was good looking without being handsome which in that community meant he looked clean and respectable and uite a lot like one of them While folks ate their lemon cake and shared Photoplay magazines – and a certain old goat kept sliding his hand down onto the bums of the young ladies he was dancing with – Elena was enchanting the stranger Bill just by being her When he whispered that he'd like to take her home Elena stopped dancing and headed for the doorway beginning a journey from hick town to hicker town across Saskatchewan Meanwhile back at the dance Elena's regular dance partner – a young man who might have reasonably hoped to make a wife out of the young beauty – had his own reaction Nils Larson got drunk for the first time in his life that night but he was such a nice young man drink didn't affect him much He only made some rash statements about following Elena and bringing her back where she belonged and then forgot why he was alive and stared stupidly at nothing for a while and then passed out That last passage was what I found so enchanting about A Beauty – we never hear about Nils Larson again but from a few brief sentences I feel I knew him In each of the towns that Elena and later her father visits we meet the locals and with than a few sentences devoted to them we grow to know these people understand what a marriage means when you've been together forever like the smart alecky Merv and Pansy in Addison; or for a Chinese immigrant who was forced to leave his wife and son behind like Jerry in Virginia Valley; or to a man whose wife is incarcerated for murdering their severely disabled newborn like Albert in Charlesville She'd killed their baby daughter born with so many deformities you'd think she couldn't have lived Smothered her with a pillow Just a bundle of pain that's all she was the women said Someone had come up with that description and it had evidently impressed them all They'd each intoned it as if the phrase had popped into their heads that momentAnd that was how easy it was for them to rid themselves of the child's little life and Betty Earle's dilemma once it had been reduced to those just right words those words that implied pity without the effort of forgiveness Albert had been left to absorb the pain that couldn't be assuaged by an apt expression And to look after the five kids left at home When Elena steps out of the car in Gilroy the point of view switches to first person and we see her through the eyes of young Ruthie McLaughlin From this point on we begin to think that Elena might not be so much “forward thinking” as a bit nuttyAt one point Bill and Elena are discussing the movie It Happened One Night and they can't agree on whether it's meant to show what makes a good husband or if it's about what makes a good father and in A Beauty Gault explores these ideas of support and responsibility and commitment further Elena floats through the story like a Nordic fairy princess shaking up even those lives that she doesn't interact with directly and every time someone falls for the fairytale the princes turn out to be frogs or even toads caught in the throats of unlucky cats I included so many passages here because I was hoping to capture the voice of the writing which was consistently confiding and witty I don't know if I loved all of Elena's journey but as a device for Gault's penetrating explorations of character and setting it's a worthy frame for fascinating ideas

  6. Jeanette Jeanette says:

    Connie Gault is a new to me author this book came my way via the GoodReads giveaway that ran a short time ago From the start I was struck by how beautiful her prose is; how gentle an observational touch she gives as each of the characters' portions of the story are told This was a little different for a multiple point of view story with one told in first person and the remaining in third person It didn't turn out to be as startling a change as I expected The story flowed just fine between each character from the beginning in Trevna with the Gustaffson's Elena and the other townspeople right through to those whose path Elena crosses on her journey Every story every observation gives a uniuely intimate glimpse into the mind of the character telling their part and includes many gorgeous descriptions of the rural Saskatchewan landscape and customs of the people of that era It is all these parts that together as a whole made a story I found hard to put downThank you Connie Gault for this one I'll be looking up of your work for sure

  7. Carol Lueck Carol Lueck says:

    As a reader in Saskatchewan I believe I expected from this than I found and because of that I was disappointed My expectations for the beauty were disappointed I kept trying to figure out why she got into the situations she found herself in but she was on her own doing the best she could There were a lot of interesting characters but the story was not easy to follow Just not what I consider a good read

  8. Cynthia Alice Cynthia Alice says:

    Loved it Disagree though with whoever wrote the description Elena is NOT Finnish She's Canadian The community is not Swedish; IT is Canadian The writer of the description seems to have confused ancestry with nationalityAnd that is very important in terms of this story It is such a Canadian story and so very much about the Canadian prairies at that time in particular

  9. Pamela Pamela says:

    view spoilerIt disappoints me I know Elena had lots of problems poverty father pretending to be dead difficulties but she took advantage of her gifts her looks her allure and she hurt a lot of people in the process And yet Bill comes back to claim her to help her to rescue her to save her It's a beauty indeed When I was young I decided to write a book about a beautiful girl because I thought they were misunderstood I was not beautiful and so I never really knew and I never benefited from beautiful privilege But of course I was wrong Beautiful stories are told all the time It's the common lives that are not So here's the ENDING and I feel bad about it I feel that Elena should have paid for stealing Ruthie's father for leaving the place for making everyone want her She didn't have to pay in the end Maybe I'm just too judgmental And maybe Bill should just leave beautifully written just the endin is not right for meIt's still an absolutely glorious bookHe Bill looked up at the house behind him at the blind pulled down to the windowsill She doesn't know I had a life all the time she was gone he thought She's afraid of making the same mistakes she made before The he thought about it the he was sure he was right There were times in a life that mistakes could start to seem like crimes Well he was guessing But it could be why she'd come home No we'll go a roving He'd read that in a novel a character had thought it a woman who barely noticed what she was thinking; one of those fragments of a poem it had slipped like a breeze through her mind So we'll go no a roving By the light of the moon He wanted to tell Elena he understood give her something to lean against even if it was only for ten minutes on the doorstep She might not need anyone; she might be better off on her own We're not all alike he thoughtIn the uiet of the farmyard he heard a soft shushing sound he hadn't heard before that might have been the earth sighing Or maybe he'd sighed himself he couldn't tell If so it wasn't because he was getting melacholy; it was a sigh of contentment and why not? He had time he had plenty to spare and Elena would have to come out sooner or later She'd have to come out only if to deal with that rental car but she'd come out anyway because she wasn't a house kind of person And then they were going to talk He wasn't at the end of this and she wasn't either No she was no house kind of person; she was a woman who belonged outdoors and preferably in a car a big fast luxury convertible with the top down open to the sky He'd ask her where she wanted to go and she'd say anywhere He laughed The old fellow would be on his side he could tellLater he began to whistle an airy tune that sounded lonely to those inside the house hide spoiler

  10. Tina Tina says:

    I struggled with the first uarter of this novel – I wondered where it was going why Elena would just get into a car with a young man she didn’t know and I didn’t exactly relish Bill’s perspective regarding her it was possessive while subseuently putting her on a pedestal mingled with blatant sexism – though I realize a great deal of it was due to the time period so I tried to overlook it I also found the focus on describing Elena’s beauty tiresome – yeah she’s beautiful we get it I was almost contemplated setting the book aside as a waste of 10 when all of a sudden it changed course and tone By the end I was very much hooked The setting and the characters really make the story You could see the sparseness yet also beauty of the Saskatchewan plains during the dirty 30s and the simplicity of the lifestyle but also the inability to be anything but simple I’ve never been to Saskatchewan but I’ve driven through American prairies Someday I would love to goAs for characters Elena grew interesting view spoileraway from Bill hide spoiler

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