In Halifax writer Carol Bruneau’s last book, Berth, her main character Willa sacrifices a comfortable life as a military wife and mother to follow a mysterious man who lives in an isolated lighthouse on the island of Thrumcap (based on McNabs). In Glass Voices, 71-year-old Lucy Caines copes with a stroke-ridden husband, a clueless son married to a woman whom she’s predestined to hate, and a grandson struggling to find his place in the free-loving hippie 1960s. There’s nothing particularly special about Willa and Lucy---they’re quiet, average women you couldn’t pick out of a grocery line-up---but Bruneau coaxes out their inner lives and private thoughts into a wonderfully crafted novel that follows in the tradition of Margaret Lawrence and Carol Shields.
Glass Voices circles between Lucy’s present-day in the 1960s as she deals with her hospitalized husband, Harry, and her memories of their marriage---in particular, the tragic losses she experienced during the Halifax Explosion which killed her parents and siblings, and left her baby daughter missing and her husband seriously maimed. Thankfully Bruneau doesn’t portray Lucy as a saint or a long-suffering wife---although her ordeals with philandering Harry’s frequent absences and outbursts deserve our sympathies---she is as faulted, funny and honest as they come.
Sue Carter Flinn