Title: Bellevue Square
Author: Michael Redhill
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that’s what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn’t rattle easy, not like she used to. She’s a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn’t want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they’d just seen her–with shorter hair furthermore?
Jean’s curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she’s spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market’s only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she’ll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants–the regulars of Bellevue Square–are eager to contribute to Jean’s investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death.
This book was just nominated for the Giller Prize and I’m so happy it was!
On the surface, it seems like an innocent story about a woman who sees her doppelgänger. But it’s so much more than that.
Jean is an unreliable narrator. I noticed right away that her story didn’t add up with what she told her husband. It made me suspicious of her. There are also things that get mixed up, but she acts like it’s normal, such as people not remembering people they should know. These conflicting reports are woven in such a way that draws you right into the story.
About halfway through, I thought I was figuring it out, but then I was thrown right back into the mix again. It’s disorienting but fascinating at the same time. There are so many layers to the story that it’s hard to tell which way is up sometimes, but in a good way.
I highly recommend this book for an exciting read!