Being surrounded by thousands of books all day long and receiving daily “must read” recommendations from patrons, there is one thing I’ve come to realize: I will never, ever read all the books on my to-be-read list. Every once in a while, though, a really great book makes its way to the top of the list and then I’m compelled to share it with everyone, so that maybe they’ll move it to the top of their TBR list, too. Recently, one of my favourite regular patrons shared with me that during the pandemic they’ve been reading books by Lesley Crewe, a Canadian writer whose feel good stories take place in the east coast. Not knowing anything about the author, I selected her most recent title The Spoon Stealer and I was hooked. I love reading books about strong women doing things that seem impossible and was pleased to discover that Crewe’s inspiration for this book was her great aunt, who traveled halfway around the world in 1919, a time when women just didn’t do that and in a world going through so many changes as we are now.
The Spoon Stealer is a historical story about a charming and loud old woman who steals spoons. It is also so much more: family secrets, women’s friendship, lovable animals, and immense heart. Using humour and wit, the story of Emmeline Darling slowly unfolds from her early life in rural Nova Scotia to the life she makes for herself and her little white dog Vera, in England. Vera is an excellent conversationalist and the story unfolds through many human-dog interactions, so if you’re not a fan of furry friends this may be off putting but I think it really speaks to our main character’s loneliness and longing for friendship. When we first meet Emmeline she has decided to make a greater effort to talk to more humans. She joins a memoir writing course at her local library, where the other members of the course don’t know what to make of her. Offending and inspiring in equal measure, she tells the riveting tale of her life and charms the lot of them. When Emmeline unexpectedly inherits the farm she grew up on, she decides to leave her new friends and make the exhausting journey home. She blunders through the reunion with the singular goal of setting to rights the family so broken by loss and secrecy. I laughed and cried my way through this heartbreaking story and I’m so glad I read it.
Lesley Crewe is a Nova Scotia columnist, screenwriter and author of several novels, including the forthcoming novel Nosy Parker, as well as Beholden, Mary, Mary, Amazing Grace, Chloe Sparrow, Kin and Relative Happiness, which has been adapted into a feature film. The Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe is on the Canada Reads 2022 longlist.