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Come, Thou Tortoise [Paperback]

Jessica Grant
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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34th Annual First Novel Award Winner

Congratulations to Jessica Grant, winner of the 2009 First Novel Award for Come, Thou Tortoise.
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Book Description

March 9 2010
A delightfully offbeat story that features an opinionated tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a life-changing mystery.

Audrey (a.k.a. Oddly) Flowers is living quietly in Oregon with Winnifred, her tortoise, when she finds out her dear father has been knocked into a coma back in Newfoundland. Despite her fear of flying, she goes to him, but not before she reluctantly dumps Winnifred with her unreliable friends. Poor Winnifred.

When Audrey disarms an Air Marshal en route to St. John’s we begin to realize there’s something, well, odd about her. And we soon know that Audrey’s quest to discover who her father really was – and reunite with Winnifred – will be an adventure like no other.

Winnifred is old. She might be three hundred. She came with the apartment. The previous tenant, a rock climber named Cliff, was embarking on a rock-climbing adventure that would not have been much fun for Winnifred. Back then her name was Iris. Cliff had inherited Iris from the previous tenant. Nobody knew how old Iris was or where she had come from originally. Now Cliff was moving out. He said, Would you like a tortoise.

I would not say no to a tortoise, I said.

I was alone in Portland and the trees were giant. I picked her up and she blinked at me with her upside-down eyelids. I felt instantly calm. Her eyes were soft brown. Her skin felt like an old elbow. I will build you a castle, I whispered. With a pool. And I was true to my word.

From the Hardcover edition.

Frequently Bought Together

Come, Thou Tortoise + Making Light of Tragedy
Price For Both: CDN$ 28.23

  • Making Light of Tragedy CDN$ 13.83

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Product Details

Product Description


"Jessica Grant’s Come, Thou Tortoise should be issued with a health warning: you will split your sides laughing, your eyes will leak, your heart rate will accelerate, and the abundance of wit will rewire the synapses in your brain. This book is astoundingly unique. A novel about fathers and daughters, love and loss, the wisdom that accumulates over the ages, and that ancient instinct to come home. Joyful. A tortoise de force."
—Lisa Moore, author of Alligator

"In Come, Thou Tortoise, everything on the top shelf is now in the bottom drawer, and all the things you left in your backyard happen to be under your pillow. Mysteriously, this difference is all the encouragement you need to evict nonchalance from your heart. Please — I beg you dear reader — read Jessica Grant."
—Michael Winter, author of The Architects Are Here

"Jessica Grant’s debut novel is one of those rare books that manage to entwine humour – in this case, even outright silliness – with poignant insight and a captivating plot. . . . Come, Thou Tortoise is many things: a story about finding belonging, a paean to the importance of family, a commentary on relationships, and a kindhearted critique of modern life."
Quill & Quire

“Simple poetry filled with warm absurdities, all delivered in Canadian deadpan. . . . This low-key story works because Grant avoids yanking on heartstrings. . . . The real success here is not the reptilian point-of-view or playfulness with language, but that Come, Thou Tortoise manages to be touching without excess sediment. Sorry, sentiment.”
Toronto Star

“It’s extraordinary, original and simultaneously both deep and lightheartedly charming. . . . Jessica Grant has an engaging, wry and forthright style which echoes Miriam Toews, Don DeLillo, Lewis Carroll and Kurt Vonnegut Jr…. It’s a delight. Pick it up, and prepare to see everything from Methusalan mice to palm trees in England. Pack a lunch. You may end up reading all day.”
The Globe and Mail

“This is a novel that has the power to jab you in the vitals. . . . A funny and sad and splendid first novel.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Grant is exuberant and gutsy, putting to use a sharp eye for the tragic comedy of family life, love, and that perilous place we call home. . . . A writer whose work twinkles with wordplay.”
North Shore News (North Vancouver)

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Jessica Grant is a member of Newfoundland’s Burning Rock Collective (members include Michael Winter and Lisa Moore). Her first collection of short stories, Making Light of Tragedy, includes a story that won both the Western Magazine Award for Fiction and the Journey Prize.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Off-beat, but wonderful July 22 2009
This is an excellent book -- well-written, and happy/silly/sad/goofy/punny.
Very touching and very warm; don't let the talking tortoise deter you.
This is a story about family, about love and loss, and it's also a mystery.
The author does a wonderful job of the slow reveal -- the pieces come together slowly.
I recommend it very highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for more by Ms. Grant June 4 2010
There's nothing typical about this book, from the lack of quotation marks, the use of a tortoise narrator, and the deceptively simple language that deals with deep themes. If you like quirky, character-driven and ironic, you'll adore this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wild Life of Newfoundland May 30 2010
Seen on the web, the first few pages insisted that I buy the whole book, and I was not disappointed. From Oregon to Newfoundland and points east, this delightful and insightful novel drew me onward, page by page, until no more pages were left. Two voices tell the tale. An ancient tortoise of many names(because many owners)makes her new home on the Rock, and offers us her hilarious point of view as her (current) caretaker returns to her old home on the Rock, in the wake of her father's death. As our human heroine begins to learn what home is really about, add in Clint's taxi, a 12-year-old mouse and a cast of equally unlikely characters for a narrative that would be true anywhere, but could only take place in Newfoundland.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eccentric, funny & poignant. June 8 2012
By A. Fehr
I never know what I'm going to get when I choose a new Canadian novel, and have gotten a little disillusioned with the dark, gritty navel-gazing that seems to garner acclaim in Canadian writing these days. So I was very pleased to love "Come, Thou Tortoise." Jessica Grant's characters are odd but believable and she has a gift for painting the scene vividly in the reader's mind. Oh, and some parts I just had to read again so I could laugh a little longer.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delight. A pure delight. June 25 2010
By Schmadrian TOP 1000 REVIEWER
A bit of personal disclosure up front: I'm a whimsy-sort-of-guy. I have to be; I write tales starring a fully animated stuffed rabbit named Brogan She features in a screenplay I wrote, 'I Married Alanis Morissette'. If you Google it, you'll find it. Eventually.), who's been an enormous part of my life for the better part of two decades. So the notions on which this novel is predicated...especially by way of one of the narrators in particular...sat with me perfectly. (The fact that I'm a Canuck helped, I'm sure.) Unquestionably, I was the perfect audience for 'Come, Thou Tortoise'. Conversely, I can fully appreciate someone not being as charmed as I was; being on the right wavelength as a piece of entertainment is probably the most important factor where resonance is concerned. Or, whether or not you recommend the thing to anyone.

'Charmed' is the descriptive I would use were I only allowed one. I was caught totally off-guard by Ms Grant's style, the gentle power of her storytelling...the whimsy that she weaves her tale with, never overdoing it, always getting the balance right.

'Tortoise' is a strange tale with some strange characters and some strange bits and pieces making up its body. Charmingly strange. Delightfully strange. And entertainingly strange. Even the way she arbitrarily exludes almost all punctuation save for the simple period, the pedestrian full-stop is a consistently endearing way.

There's a lot in this book, but it's delivered in a sitting-in-a-neighbourhood-diner-with-booths, rat-a-tat conversation sort of way; it's a four-hundred page novel that, written conventionally, would have topped-out at over six-hundred, easy.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superlative and quirky read! Dec 22 2009
It is the rare book I read that grabs me and won't let me go until the final page while I still want more. This is such a book. It is offbeat, mysterious, treats language beautifully and delights the imagination. Brava to Jessica Grant, a wonderful new voice on the writerly horizon and congratulations on the powerful and poignant character of Oddly. I absolutely loved this book and so far, in 2009, it is up there in my top 5.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A walk with Oddly Flowers Aug. 19 2010
Jessica Grant has a wonderful way with words. I was lost in her oddly interesting characters and enjoyed the journey with Audrey (Oddly) Flowers. I found myself lahghing out loud and crying to my self. I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and I still miss them.
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