The Hunter and the Wild Girl (Goose Lane 2015) was shortlisted for the 2016 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and won the Victoria Butler Prize [SEE REVIEW BELOW] . According to publicity materials: "The story begins with the crack of splintered boards and bones as a feral girl crashes out of the hut where she's been held against her will and into the scrubland of southern France. Townsfolk chase her to the edge of a deep gorge. She leaps and vanishes into legend - and into the territory of Peyre Rouff, a once-renowned hunter who spends his days fending off his own demons in an abandoned château. When their two worlds unexpectedly collide, this odd pair of outsiders forms an unlikely bond."

Into the Heart of the Country was longlisted for the 2012 Giller Prize. Her novel, Beyond Measure, was a finalist for the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Canada and Caribbean Region, and was shortlisted for the 2004 Giller. A novella, The World of Light Where We Live, was the winner of the Malahat Review 2006 Novella Contest. She was also the winner of the Prairie Fire Personal Journalism Prize, 2000.

Pauline Holdstock's Beyond Measure (2003) is a tale of love and mischief exploring the twin themes of beauty and cruelty in 16th century Italy. When the artist Paolo Pallavicino acquires his patron's discarded slave from North Africa, he finds himself in possession of an extraordinary girl whose skin is black and white. Chiara, as she comes to be known, is a an object of both fascination and fear. Passed from painter to painter she is a silent witness to the dangerous games of the artists and the rivalries that fuel their creations. Beyond Measure received the 2005 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize.

Set in the province of Honan during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, The Blackbird's Song (1990) follows three young Canadian missionaries as they flee for their lives, severely testing their faith in the process. The novel was shortlisted for the W.H. Smith/Books In Canada First Novel Award and was published in the United Kingdom. The Burial Ground (1991) explores the 19th century collision of cultures when smallpox was decimating the Indians of West Coast. The novel was also published in Germany. Holdstock's third novel, House (1994) is a darkly comic novel set in a decaying London of the near future. Her collection of short fiction, Swimming from the Flames (1995), was followed by The Turning (1996), a novel set in France in 1870-71, against the backdrop of the Franco-Prussian war. After the wreck of an English ship, a daughter and mother must cope with the arrival of a stranger in their village. Her collection of literary and reflective essays, Mortal Distractions (2004), includes her views of writing historical fiction and the 'conundrum of being Canadian'.

According to publicity materials: "Appearing only fleetingly in the historical record of the Hudson's Bay Company are the native women who lived at the company's Prince of Wales Fort and served as "country wives"; to the European traders. Into the Heart of the Country tells the story of Molly Norton, mixed-blood daughter of Governor Moses Norton and personal favourite of explorer Samuel Hearne. Molly speaks to the reader from across the centuries, revealing the story of her liaison with Hearne, and exposing both its privilege and its price. When Molly's small society is torn apart by a French attack, the women of the fort, including Molly, find themselves and their children abandoned by their British masters. In one of history's cruel ironies, the women must fend for themselves in the harsh country from which their own ancestors sprang."

Born in Gravesend, England in 1948, Holdstock graduated from London University in 1969. She has taught in England, the Bahamas and Canada. Holdstock has won the Federation of B.C. Writers Prize for Fiction, the Matrix/Random House Prize for Fiction and the Prairie Fire Personal Journalism contest. She immigrated via Montreal in 1974, coming first to Vancouver and then settling in Sidney.

 

Holdstock has taught at the Victoria School of Writing and at the University of Victoria. She has served on the faculty of the Banff Centre Wired Writing Studio, and the Banff Writing with Style program.

BOOKS:

The Hunter and the Wild Girl (Goose Lane 2015) $29.95 9780864928627 [paperback version 2018]
Into the Heart of the Country (HarperCollins 2011)
Mortal Distractions (Thistledown, 2004)
Beyond Measure (Cormorant, 2003)
The Turning (New Star, 1996)
Swimming from the Flames (Turnstone, 1995)
House (Beach Holme, 1994)
The Burial Ground (New Star, 1991; Baum Publications, 1992)
The Blackbird's Song (Simon & Pierre, 1987; Peter Halban, 1990; Cormorant, 2005)

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2018] "Fiction" "Interview"