April Ford carries the reader confidently through the streets of Montreal and the chaos of La Ronde in her debut novel Carousel. She introduces us to fascinating characters who cannot see themselves the way others see them, and takes us on a breathtaking ride through the life of a woman falling apart so that she can put herself back together, stronger and with more purpose.
I have never encountered a character quite like Margot. I loved her voice, her reliance on structure to keep herself on track, and her stiff refusal to properly stop and look at herself. I was charmed by this woman who was so sure of who she was because she never stopped to ask herself the question. I wanted to reach and tell her it would be okay, because I understood just how terrified she was of self reflection.
I have a habit of falling in love with characters who are a little hard-bitten, sarcastic, and make their ways through life in defiance of the bullshit they’ve had to endure. Plucky, you might say. They give me hope that we can soldier on in the face of uncertain futures, and make the kinds of decisions we can live with. Worst case, we go down as nothing less than our unapologetic and authentic selves!
And of course I knew there would be no book if the main character did not step off the cliff of her stable life into the gasping abyss of the unknown. She’s given a little push in the form of couple’s counseling (can’t relate), which her wife initiates, and soon Margot is caught in a dizzying whirl.
The book revolves around the titular carousel (not a merry-go-round, you will be educated), a feature at the amusement park La Ronde. I’ve been once with my mother and sister, who were visiting. Not knowing anything about the park, we rode the Vampire first, and I spent the next two hours wishing the world would stop turning so violently. If I saw le Galopant then, I was in no state to appreciate it, and I’m honestly too concerned about rising covid numbers to feel safe going now. But hoo boy do I really want to go out and have a proper look after finishing Carousel.
Inanna Publications, an independent feminist press in Canada, is holding a summer sale until August 30 (use promo code summer20)! Carousel is also this year’s recipient of the International Book Award for LGBTQ fiction! And with a worldwide pandemic having a pronounced effect on independent press, it is more important than ever to show your support for local authors by purchasing their work. I could not put this book down, and the ending made me cry, which is exactly what I want from a story.