From Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada's beloved novelists, comes a startling and beautiful memoir about the drama of her parents' end, and the longer drama of being their daughter. Winner of the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonficiton.
Jean and Gordon Hay were a colourful, formidable pair. Jean, a late-blooming artist with a marvellous sense of humour, was superlatively frugal; nothing got wasted, not even maggoty soup. Gordon was a proud and ambitious schoolteacher with a terrifying temper, a deep streak of melancholy, and a devotion to flowers, cars, words, and his wife. As old age collides with the tragedy of living too long, these once ferociously independent parents become increasingly dependent on Lizzie, the so-called difficult child. By looking after them in their final decline, she hopes to prove that she can be a good daughter after all.
In this courageous memoir, written with tough-minded candour, tenderness, and wit, Elizabeth Hay lays bare the exquisite agony of a family's dynamics—entrenched favouritism, sibling rivalries, grievances that last for decades, genuine admiration, and enduring love. In the end, she reaches a more complete understanding of the most unforgettable characters she will ever know, the vivid giants in her life who were her parents.
ELIZABETH HAY is the author of the #1 nationally bestselling novel Alone in the Classroom, the Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novel Late Nights On Air, as well as other highly acclaimed works of fiction, including His Whole Life, A Student of Weather, Garbo Laughs, and Small Change. Formerly a radio broadcaster, she spent a number of years in Mexico and New York City before returning to Canada. She lives in Ottawa.
Winner, Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction
Shortlisted for the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize
A Globe and Mail Top 100 book
A Chatelaine Best Book of 2018
"Hay's prose elevates this ordinary rite of passage—the death of one's parents—to something rare and poetic. All Things Consoled becomes, itself, a consolation for anyone desparing at the loose ends that parents leave behind. Page-after-page this is a masterclass in observation—a lesson in how meaning can emerge from grief." —2018 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction Jury Citation
"Piercingly candid and exquisitely written, Elizabeth Hay's memoir describes the intensity of the love, uncertainty and exasperation triggered by her parents' dying. Yet there is humour here, too, even—especially—after the final goodbyes." —Charlotte Gray, author of The Promise of Canada
"Elizabeth Hay is a marvel. She honours her parents in this portrait of their final years. As steadfast a daughter as she is a writer, Hay writes with sometimes scalding authenticity about aging and the challenges that come with the end of a life, but she is never less than tender. I loved this moving memoir." —Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square
"[All Things Consoled's] tiny scope and narrow focus is its strength. It is quite simply about death and how it both scours us and educates us." —Globe and Mail
"Iconic Canadian author Elizabeth Hay is an accomplished, beautiful and elegant writer and that accomplishment, beauty and elegance are evident in her latest book, All Things Consoled." —Winnipeg Free Press
"In All Things Consoled, Hay chronicles with breathtaking honesty the ravages of age and decline. She also shows how love, beauty and the sustenance of writing are a kind of balm for this reality of the human experience." —CBC Radio