A remarkably poised novel about a young woman; reckoning with her dying alcoholic father, a veteran of the Vietnam war living in Canada with the father of a fallen comrade.
Haunted by the horrific events he witnessed during the Vietnam War, Napoleon Haskell is exhausted from years spent battling his memories. As his health ultimately declines, his two daughters move him from his trailer in North Dakota to Casablanca, Ontario, to live with the father of Napoleon's friend who was killed in action. It is to Casablanca, on the shores of a man-made lake beneath which lie the remains of the former town, that Napoleon's youngest daughter also retreats when her own life comes unhinged. Living with the two old men, she finds her father in the twilight of his life and rapidly slipping into senility. With love and insatiable curiosity, she devotes herself to learning the truth about him; and through the fog, Napoleon's past begins to emerge.
Beautiful, taut and riveting, The Sentimentalists is a story of what lies beneath the surface of the everyday, and of the commanding power of the past. Drawing on her own experience as a war veteran's daughter, Skibsrud's novel captures the rich complexities encountered by a woman seeking to comprehend and frankly express the truth - in all its fragility - about her life and her family.
Johanna Skibsrud is the author of two poetry collections, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys, which was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award, and I Do Not Think that I Could Love a Human Being. Originally from Meadowville, Nova Scotia, Skibsrud currently lives in Montreal. The Sentimentalists, which won the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, is her first novel.