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Stray Love [Hardcover]

Kyo Maclear
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 20 2012
Born of an adulterous affair in London, England, Marcel is ethnically ambiguous, growing up in the racially charged 1960s with a white surrogate father named Oliver. Abandoned as an infant, Marcel is haunted by vague memories of his bohemian mother, and is desperate to know who his real parents are. When Oliver is promoted to foreign correspondent, he leaves Marcel in the care of his ill-equipped friends, including the beautiful Pippa. The world is being swept by a wave of liberation—coups, revolutions and the end of colonialism. While Oliver rushes toward the action, Marcel is set adrift in swinging London, a city of magic—and a city where he can never quite fit in. Just when it seems they will never be reunited, Marcel is sent to join Oliver in Vietnam. But by the summer of 1963, the war is escalating, and Oliver is finally overwhelmed by his doomed love for Pippa. When Marcel eventually uncovers the shattering truth about his mother, his entire world is rearranged. Now, as his fiftieth birthday approaches, Marcel is asked to take care of his friend’s eleven-year-old daughter, Iris. Prodded by her sharp-eyed company, he reflects on his own bittersweet childhood and the experiences that have shaped his present. Stray Love is beautifully illustrated with original drawings by noted Toronto artist/filmmaker Heather Frise.

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Product Description


Stray Love is a vibrant and deeply moving book about a boy of uncertain origins who seeks belonging in a world of harsh divides and stifling conventions. It is a book about parents who have been called to witness the evils of a war, and about children who have inherited bot the responsibilities and emotional fallout of such brave seeing. Kyo Maclear is a writer of enormous talent and compassion ? one to trust wholeheartedly in revealing the funny, the beautiful, and the unadorned truth. - David Chariandy ()

About the Author

KYO MACLEAR was born in London and grew up in Toronto as the only child of a foreign correspondent. Her father reported on some significant world events, including recording the first interviews with American POWs in North Vietnam. While Stray Love is entirely a work of fiction, it is informed by her experiences living with her father. Her first novel, The Letter Opener (2007), was awarded the K.M. Hunter Artists Award and shortlisted for the Amazon/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Maclear is also an award-winning visual arts writer and the author of two children’s books: Spork (2010) and Virginia Wolf (2012). Visit her online at

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but flawed May 11 2012
By D. Dean
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A wonderful novel in many ways, about love and war, art and race. Beautifully written and engaging. Alas a lack of research on the author's part means the narrator's voice never rings quite true - Marcel is British and yet his voice is entirely North American. I could forgive one or two inaccuracies but this novel has one or two on almost every page, and of the kind that make me think the author has never read a British book or seen a British film. We don't say 'sidewalk' or 'fire truck' or 'the Fall', and Maclear's understanding of the way British schools work is quite wrong too. She writes about London like a tourist rather than a resident as Marcel and Oliver are supposed to be. A shame, as Marcel could just as easily have been Canadian and the novel would still have worked. But there are so many other things - the important things - that Maclear gets right that I can just about overlook the mistakes. A little bit more effort on the author's and editor's parts and this would have been pretty much perfect. Admittedly the things that frustrated me about the novel might not be evident to Canadian readers, but they stopped me fully engaging with the novel - I was always aware of the writer (and it also made me wonder if there are similar inaccuracies in the Vietnam sections too).
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5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful April 7 2012
What a wonderful novel! Lyrical, vivid in its historical descriptions and emotionally true. Kyo Maclear manages, (like she does in her first novel, The Letter Opener), to transport the reader to different locales and the fascinating inner worlds of her characters, till they become wholly natural and intimately familiar. I especially love the sometimes hilarious and always illuminating recreations of '60s London.
A brilliant book, highly recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Sublime Novel from Kyo Maclear April 1 2012
By Perogies & Gyoza - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel describes how a man is prompted to reminisce about his lonely childhood in the upheaval of 1960s London and Saigon by assuming temporary guardianship of the preteen daughter of his first love.

Maclear's skill at weaving a story through time is evident when she brings the reader back to the narrator's present right when his memories start to become overwhelming. This means that the upshot is that this novel is uplifting despite the realistic portrayal of horrible events in the narrator's past.

This novel deals with huge themes of war, race, family, and identity, but all through the eyes of a young artist which means it is never overwhelming. The characters are all very well drawn, from the cast of journos in Saigon to the various mother figures in the narrator's life, and this is the true strength of the story.

Maclear's first novel, The Letter Opener, was a well-written tribute to the role our possessions play in our lives. This second novel has the same beautiful writing and fantastic way of weaving stories and time together naturally, and I expect it to be a rousing success and critical darling.
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