The House on Selkirk Avenue: Reader Reviews

It was one of those can’t-put-it-down reads … I loved the Montreal setting and found myself in so many familiar places! I also enjoyed the fact that your Kate was a photographer. The idea of capturing time is so interesting … I was impressed by your exposition of the conflicts that seize your character at this pivotal age of 50—coming to terms with the past, accepting that she is firmly in middle age with all that that implies … your novel brought me back to the emotional climate of that time of life. I thank you for it.Sondy

I did not want the book to end! Clean crisp writing, wonderful character development and the universal question; ‘what if’ make this book a terrific read.Judy

The House on Selkirk Avenue is compelling, contemporary in setting but gazing back in time through the eyes of its impetuous heroine, Kate Thuringer, to a cherished memory—a love affair—exploring it with curiosity, intensity, obsession. The novel captivates through its vivid pacing, unfolding episodically, a drama within a drama, and to make the tensions more complex, unfolding both in the present and within one of Quebec’s tensest and most dramatic historical periods, the October Crisis. Moreover, it’s the vivid and graphic attention to psychological, cultural and visual detail that make it such a rewarding read. That and the pitch perfect characterization of a memorable heroine, singed by the experience of unearthing a long-buried affair.Nerak

Set in Montreal, the heroine’s life flashes back and forth in time, between the October Crisis and 30 years later … Obsessive love, yearning for her lost youth and harsh reality are the elements of a painful conflict between her past and her present … Skillfully and beautifully written. The ending, brilliant! Another book of Irena Karafilly, another terrific read!Toula

I loved this book! I’ve read it twice. I may read it again.Barbara L.

The characters linger with me weeks after completing this book. I loved the story, the history, and the characters together with their flaws or annoyances. The book makes me long for a Montreal, a time and place that I feel I know yet have never known.Kim

… the book had me glued to the chair until I finished it and it stayed with me for days … looking forward to your next book!Kelly M.

I liked it a lot. It’s briskly written, well structured, and is an excellent character study of a woman at a difficult juncture in her life who must free herself from her obsession with a crucial period in her past. Both Montreal, past and present, and the historical circumstances are well and convincingly, and economically, rendered.Don W.

A deceptively easy read about complex issues of aging, longing that straddles obsession, and reconciliation of the past and the present … an unravelling of memories that, though decades later, prepares Kate feel to face the workings of her heart as well as the man who broke it. Kudos Irena! Your book still lingers!Barbara K.

… Another reason I felt so attached to Kate: she’s a photographer (I’m a photographer). She sees the world through her lens and I loved the way she describes photography. I’ve often been at a loss for words when trying to explain my passion … now I have complete passages highlighted!Julie

You really showed us the Montreal of the present and the complications of both the past and the present. It read like a love letter to Montreal.Yvonne

It was a compulsive read, which isn’t to say it lacked depth or that it will be quickly forgotten. You meshed the political and the personal in a brilliant way. I particularly admired how you didn’t try to ‘ennoble’ your protagonist, whose meltdown at Antonia’s party was deftly, unsentimentally drawn.Craig

Not only did I identify with the main character in several ways, but the story took place in my old neighborhood in the mid 70’s. The novel brought me back to that time and place in downtown Montreal. What a pleasure it was to discover this beautiful novel.Nick

I felt like I was back in Montreal … It is a complex mix of the ordinary which twists and turns into quite life-altering outcomes. I catch echoes of Somerset Maugham in the story-telling. You write beautifully!Patrick

This book is an excellent read. The story follows Kate Thuringer as she probes her own past, trying to come to terms with traumatic events in her past.Michael

I enjoyed reading your novel: the complex relationships, the historical background … I really enjoyed it a lot!Sam

There is nothing as seductive as the past, and Kate’s obsession with it makes this a story I hope to remember for years to come.Dora

This novel was both gripping and moving. I could identify with Kate’s experience during the turbulent times of the October crisis.Astrid

I’ve read your novel with a great deal of pleasure. A certain amount of nostalgia too, for it took me back to 1970 and the jailed comrades and the real sense of fear … You’ve portrayed that time very well.Sheila

I just finished The House on Selkirk Avenue, and enjoyed it very much. I especially liked that it was about Montreal, where I live. I am still trying to figure out where Selkirk Avenue is. Well done!Gail

I was blown away. It’s a wonderful read … I think this book should be required reading for anyone studying the subject of loss. As soon as I finished reading it, I started it all over again.Claire

I loved the story, and it was particularly evocative for me, living there at the time.Don R.

What an original and very absorbing fictional flashback to a turning point in Canadian history: the 1970 “October crisis” and invocation of the War Measures Act, with the terror of the day, the perceived imperative to shut down and shut up, the bitterness of Francophones and the gap between the Anglo- and Franco- solitudes. The story weaves past and present, political and personal, interior and exterior, with unexpected turns of character and a great build toward a longed-for final encounter that manages to be surprising & inevitable at the same time. I started it one night, finished it in a swoop the next. Susan