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All Things Consoled

A Daughter's Memoir
Narrated by: Elizabeth Hay
Length: 7 hrs and 25 mins
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada's most beloved novelists, comes a startling and beautiful memoir about the drama of her parents' end and the longer drama of being their daughter.

Winner of the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction.

Jean and Gordon Hay were a colorful, formidable pair. Jean, a late-blooming artist with a marvelous sense of humor, was superlatively frugal; nothing got wasted, not even maggoty soup. Gordon was a proud and ambitious schoolteacher with a terrifying temper, a deep streak of melancholy, and a devotion to flowers, cars, words, and his wife. 

As old age collides with the tragedy of living too long, these once ferociously independent parents become increasingly dependent on Lizzie, the so-called difficult child. By looking after them in their final decline, she hopes to prove that she can be a good daughter after all. 

In this courageous memoir, written with tough-minded candor, tenderness, and wit, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the exquisite agony of a family's dynamics - entrenched favoritism, sibling rivalries, grievances that last for decades, genuine admiration, and enduring love. In the end, she reaches a more complete understanding of the most unforgettable characters she will ever know, the vivid giants in her life who were her parents.

©2018 Elizabeth Hay (P)2018 McClelland & Stewart

Critic Reviews

"Hay's prose elevates this ordinary rite of passage - the death of one's parents - to something rare and poetic. All Things Consoled becomes, itself, a consolation for anyone desparing at the loose ends that parents leave behind. Page-after-page this is a masterclass in observation - a lesson in how meaning can emerge from grief." (2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury Citation)

"Piercingly candid and exquisitely written, Elizabeth Hay’s memoir describes the intensity of the love, uncertainty and exasperation triggered by her parents’ dying. Yet there is humor here, too, even - especially - after the final good-byes.” (Charlotte Gray, author of The Promise of Canada

  • Winner, Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction
  • Shortlisted for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize
  • A Globe and Mail Top 100 book
  • A Chatelaine Best Book of 2018

“Elizabeth Hay is a marvel. She honors her parents in this portrait of their final years. As steadfast a daughter as she is a writer, Hay writes with sometimes scalding authenticity about aging and the challenges that come with the end of a life, but she is never less than tender. I loved this moving memoir.” (Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square)

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