A particularly enjoyable part of the “post-pandemic” era for me is to finally get away from social media and meet real people – writers, friends and fans – in person again, especially those whom I have only met through Zoom meetings, online interviews and Facebook or YouTube videos.
At Bouchercon-2022 in Minneapolis in September, I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Bidulka, a writer I had come to know through Crime Writers of Canada. Live and in person is much better! Anthony is lively, charming, and full of energy and enthusiasm for his writing and in supporting other writers and our business partners, especially indie bookstores. He is a strong, articulate voice for under-represented minorities, particularly LGBTQ communities, and a supportive advocate for the causes of diversity and inclusion.
I was already aware of his award-winning, bestselling book, Going to Beautiful, so I was persuaded to buy the book at Bouchercon to read and review it.
Spoiler alert: It’s not all beautiful.
The novel is very well written with colourful and complicated characters set in fascinating scenes and locations described in striking, memorable detail. The story is worth reading for what you will learn, not only about the celebrity lifestyle of a gay chef in Toronto, but also about the joys of life in a small town in Saskatchewan.
After the tragic death of his husband, Jake Hardy learns that his partner wanted to have his ashes returned to his hometown of Beautiful, Saskatchewan. Jake had never heard of Beautiful or his partner’s family history there. In the midst of his struggles with grief and the recent loss of his life partner, and while fighting accusations that he was responsible for his partner’s death, Jake goes with his closest friend, an eccentric transvestite neighbour, to discover the ugly family secrets that Jake had never known.
Going to Beautiful is a compelling story with a powerful and inspiring message of hope and redemption after long-held secrets and the tragedies hidden in sheltered lives are discovered under the protective fabric of small-town social values. It’s an intriguing story and an enjoyable read, especially if you’re not familiar with small town Saskatchewan or the life of a gay couple in modern Canada. I recommend it.
Enjoy your reading and writing, and supporting under-represented voices and your local bookstore!
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