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Synopsis

SHORTLISTED 2014 – Scotiabank Giller Prize

Miriam Toews is beloved for her irresistible voice, for mingling laughter and heartwrenching poignancy like no other writer. In her most passionate novel yet, she brings us the riveting story of two sisters, and a love that illuminates life.

 
You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.
 
But Elf’s latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Her long-time agent has been calling and neither Yoli nor Elf’s loving husband knows what to tell him. Can she be nursed back to “health” in time? Does it matter? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.
 
All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.


From the Hardcover edition.

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All My Puny Sorrows
Average rating
4 / 5
Liked it!
July 3rd, 2015
I really enjoyed this book - I felt it got a little bogged down in the middle, but I felt it sums up what living is all about!
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1 review
Gripping story
June 6th, 2015
An emotional ride involving family, relationships, mental illness and survival. The characters are so real and endearing. Skillfully written, I did not want the story to end. A must read.
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1 review
All My Puny Sorrows
May 27th, 2015
Overall a good book showing how no matter what we have in life... Mental health issues can still rear its ugly head. And no matter how much we want to save someone we can't if they don't want to save themselves.
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1 review
Very touching story - but a little tedious
April 25th, 2015
I found the story interesting and thought provoking but it went on and on - wandering and a bit hard to really get into.
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1 review
unique approach to dark topic works admirably
February 25th, 2015
Toews' unique writing style is what makes this difficult read not only bearable but dare I say, entertaining. But make no mistake, she does not make light of the topic. The writing - filled with puckish humour - enables the reader to gain some modicum of understanding of the pain and struggle not only of the protagonist - and all those who suffer her affliction - but her family, friends, and loved-ones. It is heart-wrenching, intensely realistic and leaves the reader deeply touched and slightly uplifted. Despite the seeming utter darkness...there is a tiny spot of light.
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
All my Puny Sorrows
February 10th, 2015
Not as enjoyable as previous books but neither was the subject. Really love her subtle humor and sense of place. Good way to tackle a sensitive subject.
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1 review
1 of 2 people found this helpful
All my puny sorrows
December 28th, 2014
Loved the humour, honesty, & snippets of Mennonite history - colorful writing which makes me want to read more of her books
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1 review
10 of 10 people found this helpful
Moving, beautiful, funny, touching
December 18th, 2014
I bought this book because I have enjoyed all of the other books I have read by Miriam Toews and knew this would be a wonderful book. I was not, however, prepared by just how wonderful this book was. Ms. Toews has a style that is all her own and yet so inclusive you feel like you are living in a sort of parallel universe. Her narrative is such that, as I was reading some of the passages I could actually hear Yoli's voice and could have sworn it was my own. As they say in trite movie reviews, "I laughed, I cried, I cheered!" but I absolutely did all of those things. Thank you Miriam Toews for writing such a beautiful book which I realize could not have been easy to write, given that it is based on some of your personal history. In sharing what happened with you and your family, you have probably helped many, not just with the subject of people "killing by their own hand" but also that surrounding family dynamics of not just a family faced with suicide but a family that is faced with real life. I love your writing Miriam Toews and I wish I could be you when I grow up (I'm 53 now! haha!!) Thanks again, Happy Holidays and please keep writing. you do it so very well. Anne Creelman, Haliburton, ON
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1 review
1 of 2 people found this helpful
Beautiful and Heartbreaking
November 12th, 2014
Toews navigates the delicate subjects of suicide and the right to die with her signature grace and humour, a feat even more laudable when you learn that this novel is highly autobiographical. While the novel is heartbreaking, Yoli's love for her family stuck with me, even after I finished the book, so what lingers is the memory of love rather than grief. A beautiful novel.
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1 review
All My Puny Sorrows
November 8th, 2014
A great insight into what a person contemplating suicide feels. The rational and the suffering came alive. Being one to try and prevent versus helping to accomplish the death was poignant from the sister's viewpoint. A great read.
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1 review
Latest read
November 5th, 2014
A sad subject but I really enjoyed the characters and the humour.
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1 review
2 of 3 people found this helpful
24 hours after finishing this book I am still shaken
October 30th, 2014
Suicide and depression, those oft-choked nuggets of contemporary literature, are a tricky terrain but one Toevs maneuvers deftly. The ache and anger of the people left to witness and endure are not wrought darkly but honestly and precisely, tempered with the shocks of humor and relief we experience when confronted by life's inevitable finality, self-inflicted or not.
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1 review
All My Puny Sorrows
September 8th, 2014
Powerful novel by one of my favourite Canadian authors.
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1 review
All my puny sorrows
July 8th, 2014
Actually, I loved to bits all the characters in this novel. Toews really is magical in her ability to create wonderful characters who I wished alternatively to rescue and to scorn. A lovely read.
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1 review
All My Puny Sorrows
June 19th, 2014
A touching and realistic story of the love between sisters.
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1 review
2 of 2 people found this helpful
All my puny sorrows
June 17th, 2014
Love this woman's writing have never read a bad one and this book lives up to her stander, thanks for making me think about the people in my life.
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1 review
3 of 3 people found this helpful
All My Puny Sorrows
June 2nd, 2014
My first read of a Toews novel. I took a while to see her comedic writing, but what incredible wit in the face of great sadness. Sharing about suicide must be both liberating and hugely difficult, but Toews does justice to the subject while weaving together the great love in her family. Thanks
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
Awesome
April 23rd, 2014
A must read for everyone who knows someone who has grappled with a mental illness. Which in essence means everyone! We all know someone....
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1 review

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