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A Boy of Good Breeding

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,099 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
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’s attempts to achieve his dream of meeting the Prime Minister — even if that means keeping the town’s population at an even 1500. Bringing to life small-t ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published March 28th 2006 by Counterpoint (first published 1998)
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Best Canadian Literature
326th out of 851 books — 822 voters
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Good, Better, Best
43rd out of 81 books — 4 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,970)
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Aug 24, 2014 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
...more
Greg
May 25, 2010 Greg rated it really liked it
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
Dec 19, 2014 Clif Hostetler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mary Pessaran
Feb 28, 2014 Mary Pessaran rated it really liked it
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
Phredric
Mar 29, 2015 Phredric 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.
Dnicebear
Jun 27, 2014 Dnicebear rated it really liked it
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,
...more
PescePirata
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
...more
Rosamund
Apr 06, 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.
Ruth Conrad
Jan 04, 2009 Ruth Conrad rated it really liked it
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.
Steve
Jul 13, 2009 Steve rated it really liked it
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 man....errrr....dog.
Thais
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
...more
Kathleen
Nov 20, 2009 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
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.
Sally Whitehead
Jan 04, 2015 Sally Whitehead rated it really liked it
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
...more
Michela
Mar 17, 2016 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
Darren Tang
May 17, 2012 Darren Tang rated it liked it
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
Fischwife
Aug 17, 2012 Fischwife rated it really liked it
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
...more
Rachel
Oct 22, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
"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
fleegan
Aug 13, 2007 fleegan rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Martine Peacock
Aug 17, 2011 Martine Peacock rated it really liked it
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
Mark Willen
Jul 11, 2015 Mark Willen rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Toews and this is one of her best. Her terrific sense of humor and her ability to combine that humor with important insights on people and relationships make this and her other works well worth your time.
Sam Read
Jan 31, 2016 Sam Read rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-reads
While the characters are quirky and interesting at times, I found the plot was lacking the usual spark that draws me to Toews.
Charlotte
Oct 15, 2014 Charlotte rated it liked it
a lovely book, how have I missed Miriam Toews for so long?? delighted to see there are so many more for me to read :-).
Joanna
Feb 16, 2014 Joanna rated it liked it
This was the first book I read by Miriam Toews. It's got an interesting concept but I found it moved slowly.
Talia
Dec 29, 2014 Talia rated it did not like it
Didn't get through it. The writing is fine; the hokey bumpkin quirkiness is for someone else.
Mallee Stanley
Jun 11, 2014 Mallee Stanley rated it it was amazing
I found some of Miriam Toews's books a little too sad but this one was so funny.
Adam  McPhee
Jan 22, 2015 Adam McPhee rated it really liked it
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?
Hilary
Dec 12, 2014 Hilary rated it really liked it
Fun and odd and entertaining and endearing ... and Canadian!
Susan
Sep 01, 2014 Susan rated it it was amazing
Quirky good book! I love the way Toews tells a simple story.
Nancy
Jul 25, 2011 Nancy added it
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
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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
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