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A Boy of Good Breeding
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A Boy of Good Breeding

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  1,206 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
From the acclaimed Giller Prize Finalist and Governor General’s Award Winner: a delightfully funny and charming second novel about Canada’s smallest town.

Life in Winnipeg didn’t go as planned for Knute and her daughter. But living back in Algren with her parents and working for the longtime mayor, Hosea Funk, has its own challenges: Knute finds herself mixed up with Hosea’
Published June 4th 2009 by Recorded Books (first published 1998)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Aug 23, 2012 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: jo
Shelves: maple-flavoured
Another fantastic book by Toews, with all her characteristic quirk, humour and poignancy. I think this might be among my faves of hers ... but then, aren't they all? Some things:

1. She's one of those authors who does something magical turning plain-jane words into stories. Magical, as in deceptive: she creates something out of nothing, like making coins appear from behind ears or rabbits out of hats. She reminds me of Alice Munro in a way (and no, I don't think that comparison is at all outlandi
May 19, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miriam Toews is from Winnipeg, the great Canadian city that has given the world John K. Samson / The Weakerthans, and Marcel Dzama. Besides being from Winnipeg this book could be set in a Canadian cousin town to Donald Harington's Staymore; oh and she also writes in such an effortlessly feeling kind of way that Harington does, which is also a good thing. The book is also quite funny, and the little girl in the book made me really smile in almost every scene she was in. So unlike most books I lik ...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 03, 2011 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it
Shelves: novel
Who else but the author Miriam Toews could place a story in the "smallest town in Canada" where nothing interesting could ever possibly happen, and make the story interesting. She conjers up a collection of idiosyncratic personalities loaded with foibles and obsessions, and then proceeds to make them believeable and, if not loveable, at least interesting.

Never before in history has a small town mayor had to concentrate so mightily of such trivial details in order to maintain the town's populati
Aug 02, 2016 Moloch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Moloch by: Vista l'edizione italiana nel sito della casa editrice Marcos y Marcos
Siamo in Canada, ad Algren, una piccola cittadina immaginaria. Il sindaco, Hosea Funk, ha un unico, segreto pensiero fisso: il premier canadese ha annunciato che il primo luglio visiterà quella che risulterà essere la città più piccola del paese e, poiché il numero minimo di abitanti per una città è 1500, Hosea deve in tutti i modi stabilizzarlo su quella cifra: non 1499, perché altrimenti Algren sarebbe un villaggio e non una città, e non 1501, perché altrimenti... non sarebbe LA più piccola. D ...more
Mary Pessaran
Feb 28, 2014 Mary Pessaran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters in this book are not people you know. With names like Knute, Hosea Funk, Summer Feelin', Euphemia, Combine Jo, and a dog named Bill Quinn, you should expect some quirkiness. They are likable in their own ways and they are made more "normal" by "normal" people loving them (Hosea's girlfriend, Lorna, for example). Sad things happen, but it's not a sad book. To its credit, not once did I look ahead to see what might happen. I wanted to be there as the story unfolded, and I assumed th ...more
Cristina - Athenae Noctua
La vicenda di Un tipo a posto è singolare, emozionante e piena di nostalgia: i sentimenti di Hosea e della giovane madre Knute, l'allegria della piccola Summer Feelin' e lo sgangherato comportamento della sua nonna Combine Jo sono definiti in maniera essenziale, ma fioriscono lungo la storia, creando un insieme memorabile e piacevolissimo. La penna di Miriam Toews scorre con naturalezza, delineando una narrazione dai toni delicati, quasi le diverse sequenze apparissero come disegni a pastello o ...more
Mar 19, 2014 Rosamund rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
Really cool and original idea for a story - I kept reading because I wanted to find out what would unfold - but ultimately a bit disappointing. I think it either should have been shorter (with fewer "useless" characters) or longer (adding more sustainable plot twists and leaving room for character development, which I feel it sorely lacked). It was very funny though.
Mar 24, 2015 Dhali rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really like Miriam Toews - I've read her recent books and this was her second novel back in 1998. It's interesting her humour and way with words is very much in evident. The characters are quirky and cute - perhaps a little too quirky - but not really very strong, and there's not a lot of narrative drive. I found myself skipping parts of the text towards the end.
Ruth Conrad
Jan 01, 2009 Ruth Conrad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is funny and entertaining, but I still prefer Toews's first two more serious books. While highlighting the daily lives of the characters in a small town in Canada, the author also addresses questions of identity and parentage in a light way. Many surprises occur as the mayor tries to keep his town's population at exactly 1,500.
Jul 13, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toews always manages to create characters with whom it is easy to empathize.
Nothing overly serious here, just a nice little story about
a small town, a mayor with an obsessive personality, and everyday people
struggling to deal with relationships, life, death, and a dog who is his own
Nov 18, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Algren, where the sky is the color of tolet bowl cleaner and staying the smallest town in Canada is the mayor's number one priority. This book will make you smile.
May 29, 2017 Debra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
After her father’s heart attack, single mom, Knute and her four-year-old daughter move back to the small town of Algren, Manitoba to help her mother look after him. It’s not a bad move for Knute, as not much has gone well for her in Winnipeg. Meanwhile, Algren’s mayor, Hosea Funk, is determined to win praise and acknowledgement for Algren as Canada’s official smallest town. The winner will receive a visit from the prime minister. Due to his mother’s death bed comment, Hosea believes the man is h ...more
Jan 08, 2017 Lorraine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A quirky little read.
May 22, 2014 PescePirata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** Recensione a cura de La Redazione di PescePirata ***

Che questa sia una storia originale, e che Miriam sia una scrittrice con una gran bella voce, lo si dovrebbe capire subito. Ma io ci ho messo un bel po’ di pagine.
Dicono che oggigiorno la sovraesposizione alle sostanze inquinanti accresca clamorosamente l’incidenza delle allergie. Credo che mi stia accadendo qualcosa di simile nei riguardi degli States. Quello che sa di americano mi infastidisce, in particolare la lingua (quanto preferisco
Sep 25, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Someone had once told Knute that March in Manitoba was seductive. It was warmish, it was coolish, it was come-hither, it was standoff-ish. March in Manitoba was really more flirtatious than seductive, thought Knute. More precocious teenage girl than smouldering femme fatale. She would have said August was more of a seductive month. Anyway, it was March. Knute looked around, expecting to be seduced, not sure by what. She didn't really like that word much, seduced. Marilyn, on the other hand, was ...more
Jun 27, 2014 Dnicebear rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I do not live in a small town, at least I can read about one and enjoy it, thanks to Ms Toews. This small Canadian town is outside of Winnipeg, and its mayor, Hosea Funk, plots, plans and counts continuously, hoping it will remain at the number of residents so that it qualifies to be visited by the prime minister.

Ms Toews stretches each character in certain ways to bring out their weirdnesses--or, is that what small towns do to us, magnify our quirks?

The first chapter is full of heroic deeds,
Dec 11, 2015 Michela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Algren è la città più piccola del Canada. O meglio, aspira ad esserlo. Il sindaco Hosea Funk ha tempo fino al primo luglio, entro quella data la cittadina deve contare 1500 abitanti, non uno in più non uno in meno. Però, Knute e Summer Feelin' tornano in città. La signora Epp attende tre gemelli e Hosea dispera di conquistare il primato, e conoscere il primo ministro che verrà in visita proprio il primo luglio. John Baert ci era già stato ad Algren: non era ancora un politico importante, ma un g ...more
Aug 13, 2007 fleegan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great, but I found one of the main characters, Hosea, so annoying that I hated it when I would get to one of his parts of the book. He wasn't a bad character, just a little crazy. And I kept thinking, "yes, he's crazy, we get it, now let's get back to the better characters."

There's basically two storylines, the one with Hosea, the mayor of the smallest town in Canada, and Knute a young mother who moves back to the small town with her daughter. Since this is Canada's smallest town t
Aug 07, 2012 Fischwife rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Toews is one of my favourite authors, but this may be my least favourite of her books, so far. It is humourous and clever, and it kept us entertained during our drive to Kelowna and halfway back, so I'm not saying it's a bad book. Far from it. I still gave it a 4-star rating. It's just that I didn't relate to the characters quite as much as I have in other books. That may be due to "reading" it in audio format, although the reader was excellent.

This book is set in Canada's smallest town--a disti
Darren Tang
If ever there was a novel that emulated the saying "it's not the *destination*, but the *journey* that counts" (lol thanks djordje) then this novel would surely be it. Behind the main characters obsession of meeting his dad, whom he believes is the prime minister of Canada, lay the smallest Canadian town: Algren. While the plot is propelled with the wonder and curiosty as to what will happen when and if Hosea meets his father, at the end of the novel it becomes clear that although the aforementi ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Thais rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A me piacciono i libri buffi, con personaggi bizzarri e vicende strampalate e al limite dell'inverosimile. Questo romanzo è tutto ciò e (non) molto di più, ma non è riuscito a conquistarmi.
Il tira e molla per far sì che la cittadina di Algren abbia esattamente millecinquecento abitanti, così da meritare la visita del primo ministro in qualità di città più piccola del Canada, è senz'altro divertente, ma tirato un po' troppo per le lunghe, quindi tende a stancare.
Il personaggio del sindaco Hosea è
Martine Peacock
Aug 11, 2011 Martine Peacock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aside from the the fear of what further horrors I would find among the pages of this library book (my first discovery being a bogey!) I was eager to keep turning the pages. Towes' writing is natural and easy, and the premise of the book was fun - a mayor needing to keep the population of his town at exactly 1500 so that the Canadian Prime Minister (who he believes to be his father) will visit on Canada Day. That said, I did find the book starting to drag just a little in the middle - but I think ...more
Sally Whitehead
I love small town fiction, and I love quirky offbeat characters, so this tale of small town Canada (THE smallest town in Canada no less, a fact which is crucial to the wonderfully loose and unhurried plot line)was an instant hit with me.

The cast of characters are all gorgeously realised, even those such as Uncle Jack who only makes one real very brief, but delightfully memorable appearance.

This is the second novel I've read of Toews, I have another on the shelves to read I had (foolishly) forgot
Very cute book. I wasn't sure about it at first, but in the end I really enjoyed it. It was light hearted, but true to life in many places--what the aftermath of a heart attack is on a family, when a couple gets back together after being apart, etc. I started reading it because it was set in Canada and I always am interested in a different view of the world, rather than just American. In the beginning the characters have somewhat of a cartoonish feel, but in the end the author makes them realist ...more
Dec 05, 2009 SJane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This would earn 3.4 stars from me, but I rounded up to 4 because I like the other work of Miriam Toews so darn much. A Boy of Good Breeding was nice, too... who else could have a character named Summer Feelin' and somehow make it work?

The story was gentle and meandering (sometimes a bit too much for my taste) and had a calm and satisfying resolution. Reading it was sort of like a slow walk through a foggy summer side-road... an enjoyable meander in an odd locale.
Jul 26, 2011 Mike rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This piece was mildly entertaining. The plot has not nearly the intrigue that the Troutmans comes with. Still, some of the dialogue is crisp and unique. There are an abundance of Canadianisms. I was very pleased and surprised by the ending. For a book that went from A to B to C, it got rather wacky when it hit X, Y, and Z. Throughout the book I found myself saying "Who Cares?" My interest in Miriam Toews' writing is 1 for 3; only a good average in baseball.
Oct 22, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hosea Funk is the mayor of the smallest town in Canada, and he's desperate to keep it that way (the size, his mayoral status is not in danger). Former residents keep moving back to town, which trips up his "exactly 1500" quota (any bigger and it will be too large, and smaller and it's a village).

Characters include Summer Feelin', a dog named Bill Quinn, and Lorna Garden. Tender, eccentric, fun & sometimes sad.
Aug 05, 2016 Emma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted this book to end when I was a quarter of my way through. I feel like the synopsis set me up for a really interesting story but what I got were the angry and selfish ramblings of a prretty boring town mayor. I saw the plot twists coming and couldn't understand why the main character couldn't immediately figure out what he should do because it was very obvious quite a few times. The only character I like in this book was the girl who squarked like a bird
Oct 31, 2012 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The delightful goings on in Algren, Manitoba - Canada's smallest town (any smaller and it would be a village). A central theme is the mayor's efforts to ensure Algren remains the smallest, requiring him to keep track of every birth, death, return home, leaving town, almost death... M.T. wrote the book in 1998, then revised it in 2005. A perfect counter balance to "A Geography of Blood" a non-fiction history (people and the land) about the same part of the country.
Adam  McPhee
Dec 15, 2014 Adam McPhee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit
Kind of a different novel for Toews, focusing on a community instead of a single person or family. Reminded me of John Swartzwelder, maybe because of its jokiness. Or Lynn Coady's Saints of Big Harbour. Or even Hans Fallada, though I think I think that's just the small town setting.

Also, the Prime Minister was loosely based on Diefenbaker, right? Because he's supposed to have fathered some unacknowledged Diefenbabies, right?
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Miriam Toews is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King's College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book "Swing Low: A Life" was a memoir of her father, a vi
More about Miriam Toews...

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