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Novels set in Victoria


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#1 Holden West

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 11:12 AM

Here is an excerpt from a 1990 book review of a novel set in 1881 Victoria:

Toronto Star

Innocent Cities
By Jack Hodgins
McClelland & Stewart, 393 pages, $27.95


LIKE ALL OF Jack Hodgins' fiction, Innocent Cities, his fourth novel, is sweet. Not cloying, not sentimental, but sweet. Bitter realities like death and violence appear in his fiction, to be sure, but in the world of this latest novel, set in Victoria, B.C. and Australia in the latter part of the 19th century, they are no more shocking than a Punch and Judy show. Even a murder at the end of the novel - or what seems to be murder - is rueful but not very upsetting.


In some ways Hodgins is faithful to the spirit of place when he constructs a world as playful and amiable as his 1881 Victoria. In that year, according to the novel, Victoria dreams that it might eventually become one of the great cities of the world, even though it sits "at the absolute end of everything." It is tiny, embryonic - truly an "innocent" city. Thwarting its greatness is the way immigrants - from Great Britain, the United States, Germany, Sweden - try to reconstruct it according to their nostalgic memories of home.


The British are among the worst offenders, and Victoria, B.C. is even more artificially English than the state of Victoria in Australia, which functions throughout the novel as a kind of double of the city. Even more threatening to the city's future greatness is the American influence, symbolized by the nearby Olympic Mountains in the state of Washington, under which the city is said to "cower."


To achieve greatness, the city desperately needs imagination. The novel's hero, an architect named Logan Sumner, possesses that quality in abundance. He dreams constantly of the magnificent buildings he will one day design for his native city. His fancy is all the more extravagant because of his relative freedom from the constraints of dogma or social convention, a freedom symbolized by his habit of revising and adding to the epitaph on his chosen tombstone. Eventually this tombstone, constantly enlarged by Sumner's need to record the progress of his thoughts on life, threatens to become a monumental edifice in its own right.


To survive as an architect, however, Sumner finds himself designing facades, as fake as stage sets, on local buildings. In some ways the entire city is a stage set, a fitting place for its other major male character, a hotel owner named James Horncastle, who is said to live as if he were playing "a role in a comic opera." Horncastle is impulsive, argumentative, full of blarney, and basically good-natured - another B.C. eccentric, from a writer who virtually specializes in B.C. eccentricity. For that matter, Hodgins is fond of blarney himself - which puts him in good company among writers, by the way. The speech of his characters, many of whom have comic opera names like Lady Roxanna Honeydew, is frequently adorned with the verbal equivalent of curlicues, and this tendency sometimes spills over into his own prose.
[...]
If no real blood is shed in the novel, it is still a lively tale, with characters who always engage our interest, and with a historical meditation of permanent interest. It is certainly a tale that could only have been set in Victoria, which, of all our provincial capitals, is most like an English Canadian version of Disneyland. In Disneyland, as in Hodgins' novel, screams may be heard from time to time which sound harrowing, but on closer investigation turn out to be as much sounds of delight as of terror.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#2 G-Man

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 12:09 PM

There was a James Bond Book published in the 1990's set in Victoria. I forget which one...

#3 Bernard

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 01:53 PM

Stanley Evans is doing a series of mysteries that take place in Victoria. The main character is a VPD officer called Silas Seaweed. The books are "Seaweed on the Street" "Seaweed on Ice" and "Seaweed under Water"

The main character is a classic flawed hero from mysteries

#4 G-Man

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 01:56 PM

What is with the dumb name though...

#5 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 02:36 PM

There is a Herlequin Romance set in Victoria. One of the characters is a double-decker tour-bus driver. Seriously.

#6 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 02:42 PM

The nove The Torn Skirt is set here.

http://www.amazon.co...y/dp/0060094850

I went to school with the author, she was a neat girl, kinda alternative, but likeable. She also did a Reena Virk book.

#7 victorian fan

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 04:00 PM

Bound by Loyalty

Nancy and Dan meet as homeless youngsters in an orphanage in 1900 Victoria, BC.

#8 Caramia

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 04:46 PM

I've been reading the Silas Seaweed books. I love them! It is the Victoria from my youth that he writes about, with all the flaws and grungy details.

A couple of other good ones

"To all appearances a lady" by Marilyn Bowering is excellent historical fiction, straight out of the Vic archives.

There are also some incredible children's books set in Victoria: "The White Jade Tiger" by Julie Lawson was one I loved.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#9 Holden West

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 05:50 PM

There is a Herlequin Romance set in Victoria. One of the characters is a double-decker tour-bus driver. Seriously.


I'm trying to picture a tour bus driver with long, windblown hair and an unbuttoned pirate shirt. So far, it doesn't compute.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#10 victorian fan

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 05:56 PM

I'm trying to picture a tour bus driver with long, windblown hair and an unbuttoned pirate shirt. So far, it doesn't compute.


Here he is:



#11 Holden West

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 06:48 PM

^Oh yeah, I see guys like that on the Butchart Garden run all the time.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#12 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 09:29 PM

Fabio has man-boobs... (And they're not the right shape!)
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#13 Bernard

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Posted 29 January 2009 - 10:49 AM

Silas Seaweed is a 40ish aboriginal VPD member. The Seaweed is from the aboriginal background of the character.

I recommend then highly as novels to read.

Ron Chudley also has some novels set in this area - Old Bones (2005) is the first and Dark Resurrection(2006) is the second. I have not read his third and fourth books, Stolen and Scammed, and do not know if they take place in Victoria

#14 arfenarf

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 08:31 AM

Kit Pearson's "Awake and Dreaming" is a youth novel set here, centred in Ross Bay Cemetery.

#15 KublaKhan

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Posted 30 January 2009 - 11:26 AM

Here he is:


Holy Jesus. Isn't this Sven the kabuki guy that makes the ladies swoon with his tales of Inner Harbour bootie calls?

#16 Kapten Kapsell

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 03:12 PM

I haven't read Zed by Elizabeth McClung (see http://www.amazon.ca...g/dp/1551521970 ), but the author has stated that the book's setting is the View Towers (View and Quadra)...

#17 Kapten Kapsell

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 03:14 PM

Jack Hodgins' Distance is also set (at least in part) in Victoria.

#18 Caramia

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 03:52 PM

I've read Zed - I really enjoyed it. It is set in post economic apocalyptic Victoria - the entire novel takes place in View Towers. It never says the name of the city, and the name of the building has changed, but anyone who remembers what View Towers was like a few years back will recognize it.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#19 Jill

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 09:22 AM

"Stephanie" by Joan Austen-Leigh is set in Victoria, primarily Rockland, in the 1930s. The subject is an adolescent girl from a privileged family, but it's a nice glimpse into Victoria's social history in the interwar era.

#20 victorian fan

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 10:45 AM

"Stephanie" by Joan Austen-Leigh is set in Victoria, primarily Rockland, in the 1930s. The subject is an adolescent girl from a privileged family, but it's a nice glimpse into Victoria's social history in the interwar era.



Oh yes, I remember reading that book. Very entertaining.

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