by Ann Charney
Format: Trade Paperback
Size: 5.17" x 7.65"
Publication Date: November 1, 2013
Nerina, a young woman living in Venice after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, is looking for a way to move to America. Her charm and grace bring her to the attention of Helena, a woman who seeks out "individuals with useful skills" for her contacts in the international art community.
Nerina successfully adapts to the social and professional expectations of working with creative people. In fact, she is so successful that her greatest challenge lies not in achieving her dream, but in finding for a dream to pursue in the first place - a journey that takes her from Italy to New York, and finally Montreal.
Ann Charney's Life Class is an unusual diaspora novel, casting its protagonist not as a leaf scattered by wind, but as a brave explorer following her ambitions.
FIC019000 FICTION / Literary
FIC044000 FICTION / Contemporary Women
“A high-spirited, fast-moving tale of a young woman climbing out of the limbo of statelessness … a picaresque novel about the world seen through the eyes of a character living by her wits — except that picaresque novels traditionally use knaves or fools as central figures and Nerina is neither.”
— National Post
“Charney writes in spare, tight prose, setting a brisk pace for a lively plot line and the introduction of intriguing characters … [she] has created a tough, but not toughened protagonist in Nerina … with its determinedly forward-looking protagonist, Life Class is an inspiring affirmation of life after loss.”
— Montreal Gazette
“Mocks the self-indulgence, pretension and aesthetic emptiness of the current high-art world … Charney shrewdly portrays the current art world as parasitic on art’s past.”
— Literary Review of Canada
“The fact that Ann Charney is one of the most overlooked writers in Canada becomes more apparent with each new book … Charney, a very intellectual writer, refuses to submerge the reader in an emotional hot tub and instead affirms the cool indifference of life and demonstrates our need not to bemoan it or grieve for it but, finally, to make something of it … What Charney gives the reader in Life Class is a rarity in fiction, particularly Canadian fiction: a sense of life as it is actually lived.”
— The Rover
“How does one start all over again and, more importantly, keep going in spite of setbacks? Charney’s approach to this universal question is handled with an astounding freshness in this complex and ambitious novel. A great novelist is one who tells us something new about the human spirit and Charney has succeeded in doing this.”
— Canadian Writers Abroad
“A favourite of mine … Really beautifully written … it should have been a Heather’s Pick.”
— CBC Calgary Homestretch