Penguin Random House, 2018
A novel about aging fathers and their grown daughters, childhood scars, and rewriting the script with a little help from Shakespeare.
During a sweltering, stormy Montreal summer, Bea Rose finds herself about to turn forty having lost her lover, her business, and her bearings. When the opportunity to work for an outdoor production of King Lear arises, she grabs it despite her utter lack of theatre experience.
Things get off to a rocky start when Bea learns the artistic director, Arthur White, is a childhood friend, whose presence stirs up painful memories. Then she inadvertently sparks the lascivious attentions of the aging star of the play and alienates the stage director, who happens to be his former wife. As Bea learns the ropes of her new role, her beloved but demanding father begins behaving erratically and losing himself in forgetfulness, and her younger sister Cara reveals cracks in the foundation of her apparently perfect life as a devoted mother and co-owner, with her charismatic husband, of a successful raw foods restaurant.
The sisters do their best to care for their father, but his deteriorating condition soon exceeds what either can handle. To make matters worse, the star of Lear is also faltering amidst the confusions of age, illness and regret over transgressions from his past. In a masterful scene of raucous celebration whirling out of control, the various forces in Bea’s life collide in a shocking act that could destroy more than one life – or reveal how those lives might come together in new and stronger ways. Tender, vivid, and powerful, Lear’s Shadow is a richly satisfying exploration of how the ties of love can both bind and liberate us, and of how, even in the face of grief, we can embrace life.
Winner of the 2019 Vine Award for Jewish Canadian Fiction
Short-listed for the 2020 Jacob Isaac Segal Award for Best Quebec Book on a Jewish Theme
“Every Rothman book has been an advance on the one before, and Lear’s Shadow is her best yet, a deft balancing of timeless, classically weighted themes with contemporary relevance and page-turning instincts.”
– Ian McGillis, The Montreal Gazette
“Rothman makes great use of the ubiquitous Montreal summer storms to riff off the action of the play and to engage in an examination of identity…”
– Candace Fertile, Quill & Quire
“Rich in subplots, the … story stars a vast crew of characters that evolve and intersect in surprising ways. Reading Lear’s Shadow is like holding a backstage pass to these characters’ lives.”
– Kim Bourgeois, mRb
For Book Clubs
Download Reading Questions for Lear’s Shadow
Download a Q&A with Claire
This material can also be found on the Penguin Random House Canada website.