His Whole Life – Praise

How lucky we are to have her, this writer who stares down the tough issues in life — whether domestic or political — with such wit and grace. There is much at play here — a country and a marriage that may not survive, sins that may or may not be forgiven. Yet Hay’s luminous prose — and a last scene that soars right off the page — is transcendent, redeeming the best and worst things.”
— Nancy Wigston, Toronto Star

“While there’s plenty to sink your teeth into … it’s Hay’s perceptive writing that shines brightest. There’s something magical in the descriptions of the family lake house in Ontario that Nan, George and Jim visit from their home in New York every year. The place takes on a mythic status … His Whole Life offers a perspective about what it means to be Canadian — in our political history and romantic, wild habitats. Archetypal stories, yes, but compelling ones.”
— Dilia Narduzzi, Macleans

“It is all so true — true to human nature and families and life. His Whole Life is about a boy growing up, but in it readers will find themes, musings and quotes that resonate and strike home with their accuracy and insight. His Whole Life is a lovely novel.”
— Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun

“Hay is a wise and astute observer of adolescence. His Whole Life is a moving reflection on nationhood and the evolution of an unbreakable mother-son bond … it inspires deeper questions of loyalty, forgiveness and maturity — and reassures us that growing up doesn’t always have to mean growing away.”
— Trilby Kent, Globe and Mail

“Hay’s prose is as fluid and surprising as ever. Settings come alive through her signature combination of poetry and simplicity. Read this book for the unmitigated beauty of Hay’s language, and the quality of her storytelling.”
Dory Cerny, Quill & Quire

“A poignant portrait of a complex family dealing with loss and regret. [Hay] evokes her settings expertly: the gorgeous lake, shimmering with colour, the grey American city where mammoth buildings block the sunlight. And the characters are very strong … But the most powerful bond is between Nan and Jim … The tenderness between them is irresistible.”
— Susan G. Cole, Now Magazine

“It’s a gorgeous book. I had to read it outside and I read it in two days. She plays beautifully with the metaphor of politics, but it’s not a political book. It’s a book about a boy and his family, about what binds us together, what pushes us apart. Elizabeth Hay is unquestionably one of the country’s great writers. For me, this is her best yet.”
— Sean Wilson, CBC Radio’s “All in a Day”

“Hay … has a reverence for the northern wild that stops short of becoming romantic… the New York in His Whole Life is a sophisticated oasis of ‘voices speaking Spanish, car alarms, slamming doors, fans and air conditioners and snatches of music … Hay shares Alice Munro’s gift for rendering the WASPy mores and occasional cruelties of small-town Canada.”
— Rachel Giese, Chatelaine

“Reading fiction from Canadian writer Elizabeth Hay inevitably leaves me at a loss for words. Her writing, her characters, her storytelling skills, are simply so damn good! This is a novel rich in ideas and some of the most human characters you might find in contemporary letters; and, oddly, one that is almost equally Canadian and American at the same time. I loved this book — savored it, in fact.”
Tim Bazzett, LibraryThing

His Whole Life conjures summer at the lake and that bittersweet moment when you have to leave a beloved place, be it that cottage or your childhood altogether. With this beautiful story of a close mother-son bond, Elizabeth Hay reminds us how difficult it is to love a child deeply and then to let him go.”
Lynn Thomson, author of Birding with Yeats

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