Resonant of Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things and Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures , Girl Runner is an unforgettable, beautifully written novel that celebrates a woman born to reach beyond the limitations of her time.Read more...
Resonant of Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things and Tracy Chevalier's Remarkable Creatures, Girl Runner is an unforgettable, beautifully written novel that celebrates a woman born to reach beyond the limitations of her time.
As a young runner, Aganetha Smart defied everyone's expectations to win a gold medal for Canada in the 1928 Olympics. It was a revolutionary victory, because this was the first Games in which women could compete in track events--and they did so despite opposition. But now Aganetha Smart is in a nursing home, and nobody realizes that the frail centenarian was once a bold pioneer.
When two young strangers appear asking to interview Aganetha for their film about female athletes, she readily agrees. Despite her frailty, she yearns for adventure and escape. And though her achievement may have been forgotten by history, her memories of chasing gold in Amsterdam remain sharp. But that triumph is only one thread in the rich tapestry of her life. Her remarkable story is colored by tragedy as well as joy, and in Girl Runner Carrie Snyder pulls back the layers of time to reveal how Aganetha's amazing athleticism helped her escape from a family burdened by secrets and sorrow.
However, as much as Aganetha tries, she cannot outrun her past or the social conventions of her time. As the pieces of her life take shape, it becomes clear that these filmmakers may not be who they seem. . . .
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-12-22
- Reviewer: Staff
In 1928, Canada’s “matchless six” won gold at the first Olympics in which women competed in track, serving as the inspiration for this novel about a fictional female runner who races in those historic games. Aganetha Smart, youngest daughter of an Ontario farmer and his second wife, shows natural speed and agility as a child running between her parents’ house and that of her married half-sister. At 16, Aggie leaves the farm for Toronto, where her athletic ability lands her a job at a confectionery whose owner subsidizes women racers. With a coach and training companion, Aggie learns the meaning of competition, then goes on to experience victory, celebrity, love, betrayal, and sacrifice. Her story is revealed through layers of time: 104-year-old Aganetha introduces herself in the prologue, the first chapter begins with adolescent Aggie tending family graves, and the next scene shows two visitors to the 104-year-old’s nursing home—a girl training for the Olympics and her brother, who have a surprising connection to Aggie. Infused with striking imagery and pearls of wisdom, Snyder’s novel attempts to capture how it feels to be a female athlete, an independent woman, and above all a runner. Like the pioneers of 1928, the characters in this novel win gold or get disqualified in the process, go on to modest modeling and acting careers, and disappear from the spotlight, while Snyder focuses on the feelings behind their public triumphs, the emotions beneath their personal turmoil. (Feb.)