The Sun Times

June 9, 2011

Review by Andrew Armitage

When Claudia Casper’s first novel, The Reconstruction, was published back in 1996, I thought I had died and gone to reading heaven. I babbled on happily about it in this column—and then sort of forgot how good it was until Casper’s second effort came along. While The Continuation of Love By Other Means (Penguin Canada, $32) is not as consciously poetic as her debut novel, it is every bit as satisfying and exotic.

Carmen is Alfred Lion’s first daughter. Born in Canada in the 50s to a German expatriate who survived the Second World War, she grows up to be a zoologist while her philandering father makes his way through one wife after another. Over the years, Carmen pays visits to Dad in foreign countries around the world. Finally, Alfred settles in Argentina during the time of the Dirty War.

After Alfred disowns (don’t ask why—you can find out for yourself) Carmen, a 17-year rift grows between them. Time passes, Carmen, pregnant and in a failing marriage, is called to a hospital in Buenos Aires where she nurses her estranged father. And finds resolution.

The Continuation of Love By Other Means (my choice for the best title of ’03) is a skillfully written story of intertwined lives filled with love and dislike. Much like Distance and Sitting Practice, it was enjoyed in the fading sun of late summer, this time sitting by the Rideau Canal sipping a beer and eating poutine. Before I put it away, I must remember to wash the gravy and cheese curds from its once pristine cover.