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Home Schooling

by Carol Windley

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literary, short stories (single author)
list price: $22.95
also available: Paperback eBook
category: Fiction
published: 2006
publisher: Cormorant Books
  • Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize
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From the acclaimed author of Visible Light comes a collection of seven outstanding stories, each set against the rural landscape of Vancouver Island and the cities of the Pacific Northwest. In these stories the memories and dreams of characters are examined, revealing them to be both cages and keys to the cages.


The life lessons learned by the characters are often as complicated and painful as they are illuminating. In the title story, two sisters fall in love with their math tutor on one of the Gulf Islands, inhabited equally by the ghosts of the misfits and Hollywood stars who came to live there, and the children of an alternative school, run by the girls’ criminally optimistic father. In “Sand and Frost,” a young girl drops out of UBC, returns home, and discovers that her domineering grandmother is the sole survivor of a shocking act of family violence. In “What Saffi Knows,” a child, unable to explain to her self-involved parents, struggles with the knowledge of the whereabouts of another missing child. In these remarkable seven stories, Carol Windley creates a sense of place and of people that breathe the cool wet air of a spring morning on Gabriola Island.

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Editorial Reviews

“Windley’s writing is calm and at times hypnotic, and her prose rhythms paint pictures of their own … Startlingly lovely.”

— The Seattle Times

“Her ability to happen upon beautifully conveyed sentiment and clarion imagery is beyond that of many more widely-known authors.”

— The Peak

“Compelling, thought-provoking, emotionally rich work … a powerful illustration of the story-teller’s art.”

— National Post

“There is a quiet wisdom here.”

— Canadian Literature

“As delicate as it is intelligent … nothing short of an exceptional collection of beautiful words and resonant insights. Every single story is worth reading, and once read, returned to, whether for ambience or intelligence of thought and language. Carol Windley’s gift with narrative and images gives truly inspired meaning to the phrase ‘creative writing’.”

— The Globe and Mail

“A provocative collection from a writer in complete sync with her characters.”

— Booklist

“Radiant with sensual detail, [the stories in Home Schooling] offer strokes of narrative, creating a rich literary landscape. We dwell there, moving slowly; the stories’ emotional density lingers.”

— Focus Magazine

“The families in [this] remarkable story collection are as unsettled and moody as the wind-blasted landscape that shelters and confounds them … A haunting book that deserves our attention.”

— The Miami Herald

“A beautiful collection, full of sensitivity and utterly devoid of slick sentimentality. The stories are painstakingly realistic, conveying many facets of the family experience … Out of the ordinary comes the extraordinary. And Windley’s fluid, yet precise style captures the essence of the characters and their situations with immense grace.”

— Vancouver Sun

“Carol Windley is a very talented writer … These stories … flow beautifully from one to the other, sharing common threads of family struggles, lost love and adolescent angst.”

— Harrowsmith Country Life

“(Like) Henry James … Windley pays scrupulous attention to small, consequential gestures, to a sense of the uncanny that marks the proximity of characters to places and things, and as much to what goes unsaid as to what’s spken … The opening lines of the astonishing title store are a high-wire act of narrative prestidigitation, mimicking the fault lines of memory and the compensatory gift of reinvention … (A) book of pure magic.”

— Elle Magazine

“[The stories] are complex, beautifully written and feature an assortment of complicated yet oddly ordinary characters.”

— Coast Reporter

“[Readers] will find within these slices of life, something quite extraordinary … The dialogue bites crisply and the visual strength of the settings comes alive in this author’s skillful prose.”

— The Daily Bulletin

“(In Home Schooling), language is wielded like a slender blade … swiftly piercing a perception and pinning it to the page … These stories have their own uncanny atmosphere, remote yet familiar, cloaked in fog banks and redolent of deep woods … (Windley) artfully chills us to the bone.”

— The Boston Globe

“With nary a false or clumsy sentence, Windley demonstrates an effortless understanding of complex human nature that invites obvious comparisons to her gifted compatriot Alice Munro. This slim volume gives every indication that they are warranted.”

— Kirkus Reviews
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About the Author

Carol Windley

CAROL WINDLEY is the author of the novel Breathing Under Water and two story collections: the Scotiabank Giller Prize–finalist Home Schooling and Visible Light, which won the Bumbershoot/Weyerhaeuser Prize and was nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island.


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