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Bellevue Square

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  5,473 ratings  ·  905 reviews
From award-winning and bestselling author Michael Redhill comes a darkly comic literary thriller about a woman who fears for her sanity--and then her life--when she learns that her doppelganger has appeared in a local park.

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published September 19th 2017 by Doubleday Canada
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Average rating 3.14  · 
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Liz Laurin
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have no clue what just happened. I have no clue how to feel about it. I have no clue if Redhill's further books will explain it further or less. I am not sure if I liked it or not, but i feel like that is the sign of good writing.
Glenn Sumi

Last fall, Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square won the Giller Prize, one of the most prestigious (and, at $100,000, generous) literary prizes in Canada. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at the jury deliberations, just to hear some convincing arguments for the book’s quality.

It’s not bad – it’s certainly readable. And I enjoyed the descriptions of Toronto people and landmarks. But it’s missing some essential ingredient to make it really… special.

Jean Mason, a Toronto bookstore owner, hears
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5* - This story starts with a great idea but quickly moves toward the bizarre. By the time I was a third of the way in, it became apparent that this was going in a different direction than what I was expecting so I adjusted my expectations and read on but I could never really catch ground with this book. I have two main issues. The first is the rambling nature of the storytelling. This may not be an issue for some people but it became irritating to me as the book progressed. My second issue wa ...more
Brett Yanta
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the first David Lynch movie I've ever liked.
So I finished the book.
Read. The. Whole. Thing.
Still have no idea what took place between these pages.
***********ARC FROM GIVEAWAY***********
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
Thank God that’s over. It got marginally better about halfway through, and I thought the book had finally found its rhythm, but no. Then it just became more and more bizarre. I didn’t enjoy this book at all. If it wins the Giller, I may have to boycott the award in future!
Sep 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
I know this must be a worthwhile book. It is currently long listed for the Giller prize and has many favourable reviews. It started out for me with an interesting premise. A woman sees her identical self in the vicinity of a market and adjacent park in Toronto, after a few others have mistaken her for this person. This vision, if it is one, may be a doppelganger, often said to forecast imminent death in folklore. Does this identical person actually exist or is it all a hallucination?
After some
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not entirely sure what just happened here but I am intrigued; especially considering there are to be other related novels coming along soon?

Jean owns a book store and one day a customer tells her that she saw someone who looks just like her in Kensington Market. Jean quickly becomes obsessed with meeting her twin but things proceed to get quite weird. Quite, quite weird.

The prose is very simple but there is a lot going on with regards to identity, reality, and consciousness. It's also unaba
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-bingo, audio
What a brilliant accomplishment!

I can't believe how well Mr. Redhill gets us into the mind of someone experiencing mental illness. I think that's a really tough thing to do, and so often it fails. To me, Bellevue Square was a resounding success in this way.

The ending was insane. But wasn't that the point?? I thought it was brilliant.

One thing I can't stop thinking about -- and I'm walking up to the line of spoilers here -- is that Redhill used his own alternate name (Inger Ash Wolfe) as a char
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, can-con, arc
On May 15th I did a tally of all the people I had individually witnessed in Bellevue Square, comers, goers, and stayers. Among my most interesting sightings was a drunken teenager making out with the Al Waxman statue, as well as a man sitting in the grass with a bottle of Vaseline and a single, disgusting Q-tip, which he inserted into his nostrils loaded with petroleum jelly. I also saw people getting each other off under blankets and a nudist who was ushered out of the park by police officer
Luanne Ollivier
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bellevue Square is the latest book from Michael Redhill. It's also a Scotiabank Giller Prize Finalist.

The premise? A customer in Jean Mason's bookstore tells her that she has a double, a doppelganger. Jean is intrigued and heads to Bellevue Square (a park) to see if she too can see this woman.

I was intrigued by the idea of the double. And my interest was further piqued by this early line..."I put the phone away and at that exact moment a woman I would later be accused of murdering walked into my
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This messed with my head. I'm not sure if it caused a psychotic break or something.

I had an experience 25+ years ago where people at a mall kept asking how I changed my hair so fast. A doppelgänger on the loose. I was terrified having just read about the perils of seeing your doppelgänger. I did glimpse her slightly before darting away. I wonder sometimes if this is the cause of bad luck in my life since. Even so I'm still alive so far.

It's tough to review this without pushing my theories on o
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Such a confusing literary ride in the mind of Jean
Short book yet dense and with various aspects
The mind is a maze and reality is sometimes a figment of our imagination
A good book
Not sure why it won the Giller
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Elgin Street Irregulars
Well that was weird. It was like looking through a window at the reflection of someone on tv performing an illusion.

The setting is Bellevue Square, in Toronto, a park where people on the fringe hang out: the eccentric, homeless, mentally ill and other down-on-their-luck characters. Together they make up this community of misfits, and each person has their own niche.

The protagonist is a married woman, mother of two, owner of a bookstore, who is in pursuit of her doppelganger, who allegedly hang
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Complex, scary dark, smart, funny and engaging. This is what a good novel does to you: makes you keep guessing and doubting what is real and what is imagined till the very end.

Enjoyed recognizing familiar Torontonian locations: Pamenar cafe, Moonbean cafe and Kengsinton Market. I listened to the audiobook version. One day took a walk in Kengsinton market over my lunch break listening to Bellevue Square. Freaked me right out!

Would read more by Redhill (and by his pseudonym). Strongly recommended
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What the hell did I just read?!?!


I think this is one that is going to linger for a while. I'm still trying to process what exactly is going on. Unreliable narrators, psychological twists and turns that make you question your reality and the reality of the characters. This is a novel that I'll probably revisit a few times to try to unlock it's mysteries, but I can definitely see why it won the Giller prize.
Scott Smith
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What did i just read? Indeed. Redhill finds in this a great page turning mystery, and maybe the most compelling and terrifying first person experience of mental illness I've experienced in a while. I think the book might have made me crazy. Or was I crazy before? Hard to tell, but easy to feel what it might feel like. Also - very funny.

Visit the locations in the novel

This is going to be one of those books which divides and conquers. Some will love it, others won’t get it. I wasn’t sure what camp I was in for a while reading this and it’s only afterwards that I realise I’m in the first. It’s a surreal read but one which really gets inside your head and messes with your thoughts which is apt given the themes in the book.

I had to read this slowly and then often would flick back to something I thought I’d read but wasn’t sure an
Tiffani Reads
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
You’re going to want to dedicate an entire 48 hour stretch to read this one. I’m equal parts thrilled and totally boggled.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The writing is superb. The story makes you question your own sanity.
I hope the next two books help me understand wtf just happened.
I would actually rate this book at 3.5 stars if I could. This despite the fact that I almost quit reading about halfway through it. At that point, it seemed like just another domestic noir novel and I couldn’t see why it was a Giller prize finalist—what could it possibly offer to deserve that? But I was home on a snowy day, appointments cancelled, coffee waiting, reading blanket at the ready, and I decided that I would give it a few more pages.

Suddenly things took a completely unexpected turn. I
Liz Barnsley
A strange one for me. When I started it I found it highly intriguing and there is no doubt it is beautifully written. However I felt the more I got into it the less engaging I found it. Over written in places but in others spot on. It also had an over convoluted middle and a tendency to feel too clever.

Having said that it picked up again at the end and the early parts, where our main character was becoming part of Bellevue Square's vivid, vibrant and diverse community was genuinely absorbing. Th
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I found out that Michael Redhill’s Bellevue Square was billed as a thriller, I wondered how it had slipped onto this year’s Giller Prize shortlist, which is primarily for literary fiction. But when I picked up this book — ordered on import from Canada (there doesn’t even seem to be a UK publication date) — I discovered that it’s so-called billing wasn’t entirely correct.

Bellevue Square is one of those novels that starts off as one thing before it morphs into another. The opening chapters ha
Enid Wray
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh my. Love this book!
Not long into it I wondered why it was written as 'Michael Redhill' and not as 'Inger Ash Wolfe'... but there came that 'Aha' moment about 2/3 of the way through when it became clear why not.
Now, having finished the book it makes perfect sense - which is saying something since this book is one big descent into a magical rabbit hole... in which nothing makes sense... since nothing is quite what it seems to be.
If the unreliable narrator and the literary trickery are not enoug
Redhill rips off a strong premise of the shifty doppelganger skulking about in the shadows from the 1955 Hitchcock film titled, 'The Case of Mr. Pelham.' One would think the premise would carry the story to at least mediocre standing. Sadly, this does not happen. While there is some amusing antics along the way starring the unreliable first-person character of Jean and her 'parkie' pals, the reader is let down. Some would cry but how? After all the novel did win the Giller Prize. True enough. We ...more
Thank you to the publisher for a free copy of Bellevue Square.

Oh my god, I have no idea what to make of this one. And I mean that in the best possible way.

This is a book about dopplegangers, madness, losing your sense of self, and figments of one's imagination. This book is beautifully written. It's kind of terrifying. It had me gasping audibly and then feeling a little sheepish because, wow, when was the last time I got that into a book?

There is not a whole lot that I can say without spoiling a
Harriet Benson
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won this book on giveaways. It was not what I expected but could not stop reading it. Although I loved the book, I did not understand a lot of what I read especially the ending. Hopefully someone will explain in future reviews.
Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner for 2017. It is always luck of the draw with literary novels - what were the judges "judging"? And how do I, a mere plebeian, dare an opinion which differs?

Well, I guess that is the very thing... I have read a motley pile of literary fiction, which has merit on so many levels and really can't be discredited. So, I'm not discrediting Bellevue Square - I'm simply thinking: What the hell did I just read?

The doppelgänger (double of another person) theme was intriguin
This book seems to divide its readers into either a "loved it" group or a "hated it" group and I am definitely in the "loved it" group. Very deserving of the Giller Prize.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Thoughts? 4 47 Feb 12, 2019 11:32PM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #6: More Mystery 3 28 Mar 29, 2018 11:30AM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #5: Unreliable Narrator 7 29 Mar 24, 2018 07:52AM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #4: Family Relations 2 20 Mar 15, 2018 03:25PM  
Oakville Reads: * Question #3: The Park & Market 4 27 Mar 15, 2018 02:43PM  

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Aka Inger Ash Wolfe.

Michael Redhill is an American-born Canadian poet, playwright and novelist.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Redhill was raised in the metropolitan Toronto, Ontario area. He pursued one year of study at Indiana University, and then returned to Canada, completing his education at York University and the University of Toronto. He was on the editorial board of Coach House Press from 19

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