SMITH, Pat




Author Tags: Fiction, Sports

Pat J. Smith was born in Edmonton on May 11, 1947. She came to Prince George in 1957, before moving to Lantzville. She has an interest in sports and a masters degree in Comparative Literature from UBC, received in 1972. Her irreverent and dry-humoured views of golf are contained in The Golf Widow's Revenge, a portion of which appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine. Begun in 1977 and later revised, her modernist novella of paradoxes, Double Bind, mirrors some of the dilemmas faced by contemporary women.

BOOKS:

The Golf Widow's Revenge (Contemporary Books, 1987)
Double Bind (Sono Nis, 1991)
The Golf Widow's Revenge (Oolichan, 1992)
A Song for my Daughter (Oolichan, 2008)

[BCBW 2008] "Sports" "Fiction"

A Song for My Daughter by Patricia Jean Smith (Oolichan $22.95)
Review



Patricia Jean Smith’s West Coast novel of female affinities, A Song for My Daughter opens in 1988 when a sympathetic psychiatrist named Adam Rivers [the Adam’s River near Kamloops is famous for its sockeye salmon run] sends an unlikely trio of his patients—Mary Chingee, Joan Dark and Sally Cunningham—to a private group home, Harmony House, west of the PNE grounds, near the Pacific Coliseum.

Born on the Nechako Reserve in 1944 and married at fourteen, Mary Chingee of the Carrier-Sekani was Rivers’ first patient at the Fraserview Institute. Sally Cunningham is the spoiled daughter of Vancouver socialites, overly fond of the grape and the beautiful and mysterious Joan Dark, in her early twenties, haunts the unmarried Adam in his dreams.

The novel is narrated by Joan’s mother, a disembodied voice in touch with the wilderness. “All my life,” she writes, “I’ve seen how easily woman beguiles man. Before my skin began to wrinkle I knew how to set a snare with a wiggle or a wink. Men were always snuffling round me, like bears in search of honey.”

When their home on Kaslo Street can no longer contain their needs, the trio travel inland—and inward—looking for psychic answers. “Sally was quiet. She wondered what lay ahead of them…. It suddenly seemed strange to her that she had been to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Lausanne, Madrid and Barcelona.... But she had never been to Prince George.”

The trio stay in the O’Dwyer Motel in Lytton, whoop it up at a rough dance at the Thilcumcheen Community Hall, attend a Christian revivalist meeting and detour to the Fountain Valley Guest Ranch.

Dr. Rivers, who grew up in Prince George, is drawn to follow them for professional and personal motives.

The inexplicable Joan meets a medicine man named Chief Raven’s Song.

Eventually an illicit romance blooms between the doctor and his virginal ex-patient Joan. Zhivago-and-Lara-like, they take idyllic refuge in a cabin called The Hermitage until her pregnancy intervenes.

Joan, aka the Salmon Woman, is drawn into the Fraser River. “She will find her natal stream, spawn and die,” says an old First Nations man, consoling Adam Rivers, “There is nothing more you can do for her.”

The physician heals himself by sleeping in a house that Sally and Mary have bought by the Nechako Reserve. The truth is out there—in the bushes.
978-0-88982-244-3

[BCBW 2008]