Vincent Appleton smiles at his daughters, raises a gun, and blows off his head. For the Appleton sisters, life had unraveled many times before. This time it explodes.
Eight-year-old Hariet, known to all as Ari, is dispatched to Cape Breton and her Aunt Mary, who is purported to eat little girls. With Ari on the journey is her steadfast companion, Jasper, an imaginary seahorse. But when they arrive in Pleasant Cove, they instead find refuge with Mary and her partner Nia.
As the tumultuous '60s ramp up in Toronto, Ari is torn from her aunts and forced back to her twisted mother and fractured sisters. Her new stepfather Len and his family offer hope, but as Ari grows to adore them, she's severed violently from them too, when her mother moves in with the brutal Dick Irwin.
Through the sexual revolution and drug culture of the 1960s, Ari struggles with her father's legacy and her mother's addictions - testing limits with substances that numb and men who show her kindness. She spins through a chaotic decade of loss and love, the devilish and divine, with wit, tenacity, and the astonishing balance unique to seahorses.
The Clay Girl is a beautiful tour de force that traces the story of a child, sculpted by kindness, cruelty, and the extraordinary power of imagination, and her families - the one she's born in to, and the one she creates.
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You will love Ari Appleton
The three words that come to mind are heartwarming, heartbreakng, inspiring.
Ari Appleton is my favorite character. She reminds me of Anne of Green Gables in the way she uses her imagination to escape some horrible circumstances.
Morgan is the perfect voice for Ari Appleton. She has lots of colour in her voice, and she brings Turcker's beautiful word pictures vividly to life.
Ari was the most memorable character, but the other characters are vividly etched in my mind. Mary, Nia, Iggy, Len...all people I would love to have in my life.
The story is heartbreaking, but full of hope, and the writing is exquisite. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to The Clay Girl.
- John S Rayner