Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997
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Free event
Live Online Event
7:30pm–8:30pm

The Mystery of Right and Wrong

with Wayne Johnston
Hosted by Jillian Keiley

The Mystery of Right and Wrong

with Wayne Johnston
Hosted by Jillian Keiley
22
Wednesday
Sep
7:30pm
Please RSVP for this
Free event
Wayne Johnston - Photo by Mark Raynes Roberts 2017

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It will also be live on our YouTube Channel and on our Facebook Page.

 

Join us in celebrating the latest novel from one of the country's most critically acclaimed and beloved writers. In The Mystery of Right and Wrong, Wayne Johnston reveals haunting family secrets he's kept for more than 30 years, unfolding them in a novel that grapples with sexual abuse, male violence and madness.

 

Wade Jackson, a young man from a Newfoundland outport, wants to be a writer. In the university library in St. John's, where he goes every day to absorb the great books of the world, he encounters the fascinating, South African-born Rachel van Hout, and soon they are lovers.

     

Rachel is the youngest of four van Hout daughters. Her Dutch-born father, Hans, lived in Amsterdam during WWII, and says he was in the Dutch resistance. After the war, he emigrated to South Africa, where he met his wife, Myra, had his daughters and worked as an accounting professor at the University of Cape Town. Something happened, though, that caused him to uproot his family and move them all, unhappily, to Newfoundland.

 

Wade soon discovers that the beautiful van Hout daughters are each in their own way a wounded soul. The oldest, Gloria, at twenty-eight has a string of broken marriages behind her. Carmen is addicted to every drug her Afrikaner drug-pusher husband, Fritz, can lay his hands on. Bethany, aka Deathany, the most sardonic and self-deprecating of the sisters, is fighting a losing battle with anorexia. And then there is Rachel, who reads The Diary of Anne Frank obsessively, and diarizes her days in a secret language of her own invention, writing to the point of breakdown and beyond.

 

As the truth works its way inevitably to the surface, Wade learns that nothing in the world of the van Houts is what it seems, and that Rachel's obsession with Anne Frank has deeper and more disturbing roots than he could ever have imagined.

 

Books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.

 

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