Book Cover All That Belongs, by Dora Dueck

We asked Dora Dueck, author of All That Belongs, to name three books she considers essential titles, the books that come to mind first when she’s asked to recommend an excellent read. 

Three essential titles? Three is boiling it way way down. But will give it a go.

The Diviners by Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence’s work paralleled my coming-of-age and affected me deeply—on  account of its power and passion, of course, but also because much of it happened where I  lived—in Manitoba, in Canada—and because of her raw honesty about women’s lives, which seemed daring at the time. I’ve been re-reading Laurence this year and I find her accomplishment hasn’t dimmed for me. If anything, I’m more amazed than ever. The Diviners is her crowning achievement.

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, by Anne Tyler

Tyler’s pallet is generally small, circling around family life, and her writing is never showy, but she tells stories so effectively and with such insight, many become must-reads. I remember well the immersive experience of reading Dinner…, so much so that when a character in one of my linked stories reads through the night, this is the book she reads.

Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively

With its themes of memory and loss and quest for the meaning of the past, this book seemed to parallel what I was working at in All That Belongs. Claudia plots “a history of the world…and in the process, my own.” She’s not always likeable but she’s certainly compelling. Besides great writing (it won the Booker in its year) and compelling characters, it’s a novel of ideas. A perfect combination!

About All That Belongs:

Catherine, an archivist, has spent decades committed to conserving the pasts of others, only to find her own resurfacing on the eve of her retirement. Carefully, she mines the failing memories of her aging mother to revive a mysterious Uncle and relive the tragic downfall of her brother. Catherine remembers, and in the process, discovers darker family secrets, long silenced, and their devastating aftermath.

Spanning decades between rural Alberta and Winnipeg, All That Belongs is an elegant examination of our own ephemeral histories, the consequences of religious fanaticism, and the startling familial ties–and shame—that bind us.