The Nettle Spinner

nettlespinnercover in Canada First Novel Award Finalist. January Magazine Best Books of 2005

In her early twenties, Alma met a treeplanter and fell in love — not with the man but with his strangely romantic work. Now, with a filthy, fly-bitten crew of misfits, idealists, and transients, she works to reforest the ravaged landscape of northern Ontario.

In an emotional freefall after a passionate affair with a charismatic newcomer and a vicious attack, Alma retreats, pregnant and alone, to an abandoned mining settlement. There, with the help of the camp’s single inhabitant, she constructs for herself and her unwanted baby a world that grows more and more ominous. To keep terror at bay, she weaves cloth from thread made of stinging nettle fibre.

Like the peasant girl in the ancient Flemish folktale who vanquishes her seducer by weaving him a nettle shroud, Alma faces her peril and frees herself and her child. The Nettle Spinner is a stark, vigorous, and sophisticated debut novel that portrays sex with startling clarity and violence with peculiar tenderness.

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“Brilliantly, this writer illustrates the need for an examined life. Analysis. Accountability. A responsibility that we have to the world around us, to each other, to the earth beneath our feet.”

– (Globe and Mail – Maggie Mortimer)

“The Nettle Spinner is immensely satisfying, both as an elaboration of the themes in Way Up, her earlier collection of short stories, and as a contribution to the tradition of sexy Canadian fiction written by women.”

– (Winnipeg Free Press – Ariel Gordon)