Alden Patterson, the last living member of a once-wealthy Toronto family, is haunted by the legacy of her grandfather, William Patterson, whose suicide taints the family name. She lives in the decaying Patterson House with Constance, a foundling, and John Hunt, an injured war veteran and the family’s former gardener. When Alden is reduced to taking in boarders, she thinks she has found a way to survive until the crash of 1929 leaves her truly desperate and one particular boarder threatens to destroy everything she thinks she wants.
“Part sweeping historical novel, part ghost story, part coming of age tale and part feminist rally cry, Patterson House is a novel that manages to do so much at once. I loved the close examination of Toronto’s history and the reality of women’s limited options in the early 1900s. Alden Patterson is a fictional hero for our times, a woman trying hard to retain her independence in an era that doesn’t allow for it. Cawthorne’s writing is fluid and spare, allowing the novel’s twists and turns to guide the reader. This is a wonderful book.”
—Amy Stuart, author of Still Mine, Still Water, and Still Here
“One of the numerous delights of this first novel is the picture it presents of Toronto at the turn of the twentieth century and into the 1930s. But it is Toronto as lived in by women: the unwed mothers, the motherless girls, the women who have given up their rights when they marry only to discover how bad the bargain they have made is, and also, but certainly not the least, those brave ones who defy convention and refuse the life laid out for them. Salvation for women is hard to come by in this writerly world, but it sometimes does through dogged persistence, mutual support, simple courage, and once in a while, through plain dumb luck. Jane Cawthorne’s Patterson House is a tightly-woven, warm and lively novel that builds in tension in such a way that nearing the end, the reader won’t be able to put the book down.”
“The Patterson House saga is old-fashioned in all the right ways: a great broad canvas of time and event; multiple characters with deeply complicated desires and obstacles; and maybe best of all, writing that is both muscular and lyrical. PBS, are you reading??”
—Sandra Scofield, author of six novels, including Beyond Deserving, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.
About the author
Jane Cawthorne writes about women on the brink of transformation. She is the editor of two anthologies and the author of a widely-produced collection of monologues about abortion. For a full bio, see here.