by Mikella Nicol
Translated by Lesley Trites
Capturing the emblematic ennui of a brooding Montréalaise, a millennial novel by one of Quebec’s brightest young feminists.
Montreal is in the grips of one of its summer heat waves, when searing temperatures have a way of making its residents cast aside their better judgment. A young twenty-something works the night shift at a call center, her only company the disembodied voices of the customers who call in to complain. She spends her night off drinking with her friend Louis at “their” bar, while her successful boyfriend sleeps. His career allows her the pleasures of his spacious, modern condo, a new existence. She likes feeling undefined, still up for grabs, even as the middle-class trappings of her relationship threaten to shape her.
In the stifling humidity of such surroundings, her life is turned upside down when she grows obsessed with Mia, a beautiful woman she meets one night at the bar. Then there’s the woman who’s gone missing, whose face is constantly on screens across the city. How can she stem the drift away from her relationship, she worries, when her former lover B., who was both violent and magnetic, is always in her thoughts?
All these orbits are set to collide, as the heat wave shows no sign of breaking and emotions reach record highs.
A Three-Tiered Pastel Dream: Stories
A career-focused woman finds her life taken off course by an unexpected pregnancy and its challenging aftermath; a troubled doctor abandons her family on her daughter’s birthday, the three-tiered pastel layer cake in the passenger seat beside her; a young mother must contend with how to explain her husband’s suicide to their child. In her first story collection, Lesley Trites digs bravely into the dilemmas faced by contemporary women who must be everything to everyone, as they navigate the triangle of responsibilities between motherhood, work, and love.
Written with keen insight and deep affection, Lesley Trites’s A Three-Tiered Pastel Dream unearths pearls of wisdom from the secret lives of women who could easily live next door, drop off their kids at the same school, or work in the next cubicle.
Where To Buy
The print edition is available now! Check your favourite local bookstore. In Montreal, it's available at Drawn & Quarterly, Paragraphe, or Indigo; in Toronto, at Type; in Fredericton, at Westminster. Or, order online through Véhicule Press, Chapters, Amazon Canada, McNally Robinson, King's, etc.
"This debut collection of short stories [...] gazes deeply into modern womanhood and the way in which having it all can easily slip into wistful envy. [...] These stories are carefully observed and sharply written, never overdone or too neatly plotted. [...] The collection is a fresh take on the midlife crisis question, 'Is this it?'" - Publishers Weekly (Read the full review here.)
"What all the stories share is an exploration of the ambiguities of contemporary femininity and a commitment to an aesthetic rooted in the use of subtle detail. [...] Characterized by delicacy in style and in form, Trites’s writing leaves a reader better attuned to what, in stories and in life, often goes unsaid and unnoticed." - Montreal Review of Books (Read the full review here.)
"Trites possesses a deep understanding of grief’s peculiar landscape as felt by individuals across generations, and demonstrates her prodigious writing talent by avoiding histrionics or stereotypes when describing these hardships." - The Winnipeg Review (Read the full review here.)
"There’s a claustrophobic and secretive quality to Montreal writer Lesley Trites’s debut, a book of short stories that illuminates the lives of girls and women." - The Quill and Quire (Read the full review here.)
12 or 20 Questions with Lesley Trites, rob mclennan's blog
"There’s been a buzz around the work of Lesley Trites for some time now..." - Ian McGillis
"Montreal lit for 2017," Montreal Gazette
"She is a short-story writer of clarity, wit, and restraint. She has a fine observing eye combined with a gift for sharp turns of phrase, crafting beautiful surfaces that part briefly to reveal glimpses of the sorrows that underlie every life. Her stories are variously juicy, dry, bubbly, tannic and biting. She sometimes reminds me of the best of Lisa Moore's early work." - Elise Moser
"11 Canadian writers to watch," CBC Canada Writes