From one of Canada’s most critically acclaimed authors comes a novel that deals with the complicated issues of aging and mourning, along with the bittersweet consolations of memory, family, friendship and faith.
A recently widowed seventy-five-year-old woman named Irene Dunne travels to West Hollywood, where her only daughter, a film producer, has just be killed in a car accident. As she grapples with the aftermath of her daughter’s sudden death, Irene befriends two young women and a mysterious but larger-than-life Hungarian neighbor, Magda El Masri, who appears to be involved in an informal baby-selling ring. Their encounters have unexpected ramifications as the novel unfolds during the winter of 1998-99.
Rich in film references, the novel juxtaposes life in contemporary L.A. with the memory of its golden glamour years, while also contrasting different generations of immigrants in a reflection of the modern world. As it subtly explores the meaning of the end of life, this novel asks everyone what they might do with the unknown time that remains to them.
Written in the clear, evocative style that Teleky has been praised for, and redolent of the timeless Demeter-Persephone myth of a mother searching for her lost daughter, Winter in Hollywood is a brilliant portrait of sorrow and love, of memory and courage.
Praise for Winter in Hollywood
“Immensely readable, rich in dialogue and in detailed observation of its Hollywood setting. It is an unusual novel, harrowing and haunting…Set on the fringes of tinseltown life, Winter in Hollywood treats of loss and longing, of the harshness of unexpected death and of the hope and insouciance with which its reality can be faced. As Irene slowly shares her grief with the strangers who were her daughter’s friends, the past becomes blurred by the demanding present. Her struggle with sorrow is will sifted by Teleky, whose take on human interaction is telling. His book is thoughtful as well as suspenseful, touching as well as intelligent.”
–The London Free Press
“Like Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, Holly Golightly, Judith Hearne and even Myra Breckenridge (I know, I know), Irene Dunne (not the movie actress) joins the list of unforgettable women locked into our consciousness by male writers–in this case Toronto’s widely acclaimed humanities professor in his third novel Winter in Hollywood. While arguments about appropriation still sputter from time to time, they crumble in the path of artistry as precise as Teleky’s, and of novels as rich with the almost unbearable weight of the love, loss and longing that make this one a model of the storytelling art…Teleky pits death and mourning against the bittersweet alternatives of memory and faith. The reader wins, and the world has yet another fictional heroine who will live among us for generations of readers yet to come.”
–The Toronto Star
“In Richard Teleky’s poignant new novel, Winter in Hollywood, a 75-year-old widow named Irene Dunne travels to California from Cleveland to sort through the life of her only child, Holly…Among other things, Teleky’s novel is a bittersweet reflection on motherhood and the aspirations and disappointments that pass from parent to child…Teleky ultimately eschews sugar-coated resolutions–and Hollywood endings–and offers instead a darker vision of aging…what Teleky does is bear witness to an outlived life with a sympathetic and exacting eye…Teleky writes wonderfully about the memories that are supposed to soften the decline of Irene’s ‘golden’ years but haunt her instead…heartbreaking.”
–The National Post
“In the hands of a novelist less talented than Teleky it [the novel] might have been grueling. But it remains very readable throughout, a subtle and often moving story about a widow with a famous name who attempts to mourn a daughter in a town where, for a fee, a tour guide will take you to the Viper Room, where River Phoenix collapsed for the last time, just moments before he died.”
–The Globe and Mail
Order from Dundurn Press.