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Elizabeth and After
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Elizabeth and After

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  266 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Two love stories, one past, one present, mirror each other in this highly acclaimed story of ambition, sex, memory and marriage. Set in small-town Ontario -- vintage Matt Cohen territory -- Elizabeth and After is rich in insights about human foibles and aspirations, and an unforgettable portrait of a place and the people who live there.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published April 11th 2000 by Vintage Canada (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 485)
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Angela
Winner of Canada's prestigious Governor-General's Award, this is an incredibly intricate novel about a small town and its people. West Gull is in Ontario but could be anywhere in the world where small towns survive. Protagonist Carl McKelvey, who is reminiscent of Richard Russo's characters, particularly Sam Hall in The Risk Pool, returns to West Gull for reasons seemingly unknown to him and others in town. In West Gull, Carl had left an ex-wife and a daughter, a dead mother, an old father, and ...more
Chana
I didn't find the story line significant. It was hard to keep track of characters because the story was not sequential. There is a lot of weather and scenery in this book, which is OK but I found that eventually I was skimming those parts. The descriptions are good but the action is slow. I wanted to shake the author and say, does anything ever happen? Then things happen but the characters talk about the action in such a laconic and round about way that it makes it seem like nothing happened. I ...more
Peter
Matt Cohen is one of the real underappreciated Canadian Writers. This is typical of his work, lyrical, evocative and moving depictions of people torn by guilt, struggling to survive.
Julia
"All happy families resemble each other, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." - Leo Tolstoy

I applaud this Canadian author for such a descriptive and heartbreaking story.

27 year old Carl returns to his small home town after being away for 3 years, to reconnect with his young daughter and to put behind him his legacy of violence and alchohol that had led to his divorce.

As he tries to rebuild his life, he finds that it is not an easy thing to do, in a town that has a long memory.
Pamela
I can't say I loved it. But I've read it and now it is done. There were missing bits, I felt. How did it win?

Ah, does the video reveal that this story is the real Beauty and the Beast, the real consensual sensual bdsm? Is this the Jian Ghomeshi story written as a GG winner? Wow. Idealized Madonna and whore. Is this what men do when they write about women?

The ordinary and extraordinary intermingles. Nothing happens, and surprising (but maybe not expected, or therefore really real) events take pla
...more
Greg Heller
A brilliant Canadian author that died far too soon. This is a book that took over 10 years to write, but is well worth it. Set in a fictional town north of Kingston Ontario.
Abby
A strong, emotionally powerful and character-driven story that's both heartbreaking and at times very funny. Cohen's writing never ceases to amaze me. His attention to detail is impeccable as always, and the layers of his story so thorough. Once again he shows he is a master at telling stories so real and so human you feel immersed in the fictional town of West Gull and its inhabitants.

This is not a book for those who like fast-paced, action-driven stories. It moves slowly to observe minute deta
...more
Holly Hollyson
I did enjoy this book, although it took me quite a long time to read it. I felt that some of the characters were underdeveloped and that made it confusing at times, I frequently had to go back to re read sections. I loved that it was set in Ontario - I could imagine the little town very easily! About half way through the book, it became much easier to read and I made better progress from that point.
Anna
Mentions my hometown!
Amanda
This book! I wanted to start reading it again, poring over the details I probably missed, the minute I turned the final page. So good.
Kristine Morris
So wonderfully descriptive. Like the way the author visits the same event from different perspectives, and keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen in the end. Bittersweet ending.
Bruno de Maremma
Having grown up in small town Ontario, I think he has done a marvelous job of describing life in that environment. Not to mention that it is a fine read as well.
Caleigh
A woman who settled when she shouldn't have dies before she gets a chance to break away. Very good reading but makes you long for something cheerier.
Maryruth Endicott
Loved that the story jumped around. Allowed you to feel what the characters were dealing with and kept you guessing and engaged.
Ed Hayden
Excellent story. Superb writing, weaving in and out of situations. Couldn't wait to read what's coming next.
Wendy
Jun 05, 2013 Wendy added it
Read this one right after He passed away... it is a hauntingly beautiful story.
Barb
Apr 01, 2013 Barb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: canlit
** is pissed off ... GR somehow managed to lose my review!
Barbara Gard
didn't like it or finish it
Anne
Feb 09, 2009 Anne added it
Not particularly memorable.
Foreign
Dec 14, 2007 Foreign added it
Shelves: france-phebus
French editor: Daniel Arsand
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Matt Cohen studied political economy at the University of Toronto, and taught political philosophy and religion at McMaster University in the late 1960s before publishing his first novel, Korsoniloff, in 1969.

His greatest popular success as a writer was his final novel, Elizabeth and After, which won the 1999 Governor General's Award for English-language Fiction only a few weeks before his death.
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More about Matt Cohen...
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