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4.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat with Eccentric Characters
Reason for Reading: The publisher's plot synopsis grabbed me right away.

Summary: Hattie in Paris, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend, receives an urgent message from her niece in Manitoba to come home quickly. Hattie's sister Min is in a deep depression and needs to go into the hospital again and when Hattie arrives she finds the kids in a state...
Published on Jan. 8 2010 by Nicola Mansfield

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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The Flying Troutmans was a huge disappointment. I absolutely loved A Complicated Kindness, and was looking forward to The Flying Troutmans, expecting to find more of the same rich prose and real-life characters. This latest offering from Toews, however, was a flat, lifeless mess. The characters in this novel were contrived, the dialog unbelievable, and the narrative...
Published on July 11 2009 by Donna Campbell


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4.0 out of 5 stars Offbeat with Eccentric Characters, Jan. 8 2010
By 
Nicola Mansfield (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Paperback)
Reason for Reading: The publisher's plot synopsis grabbed me right away.

Summary: Hattie in Paris, who has just been dumped by her boyfriend, receives an urgent message from her niece in Manitoba to come home quickly. Hattie's sister Min is in a deep depression and needs to go into the hospital again and when Hattie arrives she finds the kids in a state. Teenage Logan retreats into his hoodie all the time, rarely speaks and the neighbors have a backyard full of hatchets. Thebes, on the other hand, does not stop talking, ever, and looks as if she hasn't changed clothes in a few weeks nor combed, let alone washed her hair in months. Hattie is totally not up to the job of looking after two children so she takes the children in the van on a road trip to the States to find their father whom Min chased out of their lives when they Logan was a toddler and Thebes newly born. With only the name of a place of where he was ten years ago they set off.

Comments: What a wonderful, brilliant book! A humourous, heart-felt, sometimes poignant story of a family of the most quirky characters. This family is both dysfunctional and each member is suffering their own mental health problems but they are also lovable, unique and become accepted to the reader just the way they are. The only character I didn't connect with nor grow to like was Hattie, who was quite negligent with looking after the children and as a 32yo woman had no excuse for her behaviour except that she daydreamed about her ex-boyfriend back in Paris and hadn't looked after children before. I didn't buy it. However, the children and Min (who we get to know through Hattie's memories) were extremely outlandish yet totally believable characters.

A great story that will have you chuckling, shaking your head and growing fonder of these two children the more you read. I really enjoyed this, my first foray into Toews, and I will be looking into her other work hoping to find the same quality of story. The book vaguely reminded me of the movie "Little Miss Sunshine" and I pictured Logan just as the teenage son in that movie. If you enjoy an offbeat story populated with eccentric characters this book will certainly fit the bill.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Where do I begin?, Oct. 4 2009
By 
Schmadrian - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
This book is, in its own way, a stellar accomplishment. At the same time, not everyone will like it, not everyone will 'get' it. But man...what a ride.

It's economical. Spare. And maybe, just maybe, because of the core subject -depression- this was the perfect tack to take, rather than getting bogged down in narrative that provides more in its depth, but that depth ends up detracting from the power of this core.

Normally, I don't touch on 'what the story's about' in my reviews. Here, I'm going to make an exception. To a small extent. 'Troutmans' is a road trip. A road trip as told by a fractured, vulnerable, flawed narrator...whose own profile does not impact negatively on the story...something I consistently harp on about these days. Along with Hattie, there's Thebes, her 11 year old niece, and Logan, her 15 year old nephew. Both are, to most observers, intellectually heightened to the extreme...and maybe this is part of what would put off some readers. (I'll get to the major element of this effect in a moment.)

These two kids are so fantastically presented- Look; I'm a writer, I pride myself on being great with dialogue...but what Ms Toews comes up with repeatedly, what she lavishes on us by way of these two characters is... Well, at times, not only was I laughing, but I was almost applauding. The voices -for those who can hear them- are authentic to the point of being painfully so. In fact, my basic litmus test for any novel (and I'll confess here that I know this reveals a major prejudice of mine, so go ahead; sue me. But then, I am also a screenwriter...) is whether I'm compelled to see the tale in my head, as a film. Better yet, would I *want* to see it as a film, on the screen. In this case, absolutely, positively, beyond any shadow of a doubt. It might just be the ultimate 'indie film', pushing aside such beloved gems as 'Lost in Translation', 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Sideways'. I may have felt very, very uncomfortable with some of what unfolds, what's said, what's done...even moreso when deconstructing the family history, figuring out just how they got to be the people they are...but I was affected by what Ms Toews wrote, and really, is there any greater goal, than to effect your readers, to get them to a different place, add to their experiences in a rich way?

As I said, the core subject is depression, and this is what many people simply wouldn't like about 'The Flying Troutmans'. Its discussion, even as pithily presented by the author, brings with it a suitable weight. And tonal impact. People don't feel comfortable talking about 'everyday depression', never mind the kind that's held someone in its grips their entire life, kept them on the abyss of suicide for nearly the duration. (It's familiar territory for me, having been a self-diagnosed 'functional, cyclical depressive' for more than three decades.) Min, the mother of Logan and Thebes, sister to Hattie, the patient in this story, is the lynchpin of 'Troutmans', but her situation is handled with a true deftness-of-touch, a near-perfect consideration by Ms Toews, not only in references in the present tense, but also in flashbacks. Your heart breaks for her, putting the pieces together, but I never felt that this element was overdone, never turning either mawkish or maudlin. But then, it's not what the book's about; the road trip is what the book's about.

'The Flying Troutmans' is a gem. Written by a novelist who took a particular tack to tell a particular story a particular way, it's a distinct tale in a world where just about everything's been heard before. And of course now I'm going to be investigating the rest of Ms Toew's oeuvre.

(Personal rating: 9/10)
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4.0 out of 5 stars sad novels, I decided to try something a bit ..., July 26 2014
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Paperback)
After reading quite a few intense, sad novels, I decided to try something a bit lighter and an easier read. Having read "A Complicated Kindness" a few years back I remember really liking Toews style of writing so I gave this one a shot (I bought it used from a library for 2$!). I flew through this book. It was so relatable and the words just ran together so nicely it was hard to put down. The plot had a steady growth and the character development was phenomenal, especially with Logan. I loved all the flashback stories Hattie would talk about, really showed the essence of a dysfunctional but loving sister relationship. Thebes was definitely my favourite and I think a lot of young girls could relate to her quirkiness and eccentric self. The cover makes it look like a children's book but I think anyone preteen and up could enjoy it. The only thing I didn't like was how it ended, I felt like it left me wanting more!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a typical novel, July 31 2009
By 
BetsYi "KaKa" (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Paperback)
It took me a while to finish Mariam Toews' last book "A Complicated Kindness", yet it is a book beautifully written with humors of unspoken sadness. As soon as i finished the book, i was expecting Toews' next book. Her extraordinary way to tell stories not only paints the image of her characters layer by layer, she also draws the relationship between her characters with detail, and take readers to experience a undescribable loneliness of each and all of her characters'. "the Flying Troutmans" is not about people making any specific accomplishment in life under social expectation. It is about searching for faith when one doesn't. It is not a book for everybody. It is a book for those who are willing to experience life spontaneously. It's a book that opens windows for readers to jump out the boredom of routine in life, into the unknown, onto the road trip to fly with the Troutmans.

I enjoy Mariam Toews.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, July 11 2009
By 
Donna Campbell (Calgary, AB) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
The Flying Troutmans was a huge disappointment. I absolutely loved A Complicated Kindness, and was looking forward to The Flying Troutmans, expecting to find more of the same rich prose and real-life characters. This latest offering from Toews, however, was a flat, lifeless mess. The characters in this novel were contrived, the dialog unbelievable, and the narrative rambling. The whole pointless pursuit was a journey to nowhere.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flying Troutmans' Book Club selection, June 24 2009
By 
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
Our club selected this book. The rich character development and poignancy of the story appealed to all of us. We fell in love with Logan and Thebes and wished the story could've continued to find out more about their lives...a very enjoyable and humorous read for the summer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, funny, with warning, April 27 2013
By 
Stephen Soule "wandering Steve" (Victoria, BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
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A riff on Kerouac, sort of. But hilarious and more sober. Skates close enough to madness and death to maybe be a problem for some, but positive in its way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, funny...REAL!, Jan. 4 2013
By 
Noreen Janzen - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Hardcover)
LOVE this book! Toews is a brilliant thinker and writer. The dialogue, the way those kids talk...SO real! (Although Thebes is way smarter than I was at 11 yrs old...) The protagonist Hattie sometimes made me mad - her carelessness with the niece and nephew under her watch - except that it was obvious she cared SO MUCH and was doing the best she could. (Like some people I know and love.) I found it quite suspenseful...what will she decide to do with the kids in the end? And I like how the absence of quotation marks makes everything flow more naturally. In my mind as good a book as A Complicated Kindness...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful Toews book, April 16 2012
By 
Sarah Rogers (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Paperback)
For me, Miriam Toews can do no wrong and she has done it again here. Wonderful prose, filled with wit and endearing characters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Precocious, June 26 2010
This review is from: The Flying Troutmans (Paperback)
Humourous at times, though the extreme precociousness of the pre-teen girl often stretches the bounds of credibility.
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The Flying Troutmans
The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews (Paperback - June 2 2009)
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