Confession: I am ashamed to admit that I hadn’t read anything by Polly Horvath until this summer. I finally worked my way down my never-ending reading list to Everything on a Waffle. It was the best book I’ve read in ages, and since then, I’ve embarked on what I’m referring to a Horvath-athon and/or Horvath mini-obsession.
This line was my favourite, favourite, favourite (at least for now) from Everything on a Waffle:
“I noticed that the parking lot was strewn with boxes and little old ladies in orthopedic shoes…They were probably getting ready for a rummage sale. The Anglican church was always having rummage sales, but for a second I had a vision of the tide leaving the shore littered with old ladies the way it washes up kelp.”
Old ladies! Orthopedic shoes! Kelp! Eep!
It’s the writing style that gets me. It’s perfectly quirky and totally west coast (as in hippy-ish-island west coast, not yuppie-latte-drinking-yoga-pant-wearing west coast). I was so excited after reading this book that I rushed online to find out more about Polly Horvath. I discovered that she is married to one of the professors from the writing program that I graduated from at UVic. I swooned and then sobbed a little inside. I was taught by Polly Horvath’s spouse and I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT. I even designed a Robert Munsch website for one of his classes. Sigh. If only I’d known!
Alas, I did not know, so moving on….
Next came an equally shocking revelation. As I was blabbing on and on about the book Everything on a Waffle while eating everything on a waffle in Victoria (see below for appropriate glee), my mother was all, “wait, this book was set in Coal Harbour?!” and I was all “Yes! Haven’t you been listening to me?” Then I was duly notified that Coal Harbour is the whaling town that my Great Aunt and Uncle lived in. AND, my mother spent time there as a child. I can’t believe I didn’t put two and two together to figure that out. I’ve heard stories about the whaling and fishing (and their pungent scent) since I was a child. Jeepers! I Guess I was too busy being all in a tizzy about the writing…
Now I’m hooked. I followed Everything on a Waffle up with One Year in Coal Harbour, then I read The Trolls, then The Canning Season, then My One Hundred Adventures, and now Northward to the Moon AND I already checked Mr. and Mrs. Bunny — Detectives Extraordinaire out of the library, so as not to have a gap in the Horvath-athon, you see.
So far, I like Everything on a Waffle best, and The Trolls and The Canning Season next-best, because of their general quirkiness and fabulous characters. My One Hundred Adventures was beautifully written, but a little less quirky, and I just didn’t find myself getting as attached to the story or the characters. Some readers might be less into the quirky and more into Horvath’s more recent novels, which are slightly more subtle (and a little less Roahl Dahl-ish). I’ve heard Mr. and Mrs. Bunny is pretty great, so I guess I’ll have to get to that before I can make an outright statement about my favourite Polly Horvath book. In the meantime, enjoy drooling over the picture below.
*I got to eat everything on a (gluten-free) waffle in Victoria this weekend, which was deeelightful! I had half of a waffle with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and onions, and then I had another half with blueberries, walnuts, yogurt, whipped cream, and cinnamon. Oh, and there was maple syrup on all of it. And, for the record, yes, I did get a stomach ache. Here’s a pic to make you drool.