Bellevue Square by Michael Redhill
Jean trades her quiet bookstore life for one of intrigue and mystery as she tries to learn more about the woman who looks exactly like her.
On a quiet day in her Toronto bookstore, Jean Mason has the shock of a lifetime: One of her regulars strolls in claiming to have seen her—elsewhere and with shorter hair—just moments before. No, she doesn’t have a twin sister. But several people swear to have spotted one—or, rather, a doppelganger. Is she an apparition?A sinister spirit? Or simply a real person of striking similarity?
Jean starts to investigate, trading slow days in the bookstore for long hours in the nearby Bellevue Square park where she enlists a motley crew of park regulars—including a drug addict and a patient from the nearby Centre for Addiction and Mental Health—to alert her of any sightings. Months pass, and Jean learns her doppelganger is much more than a mirror image: She has her own family, her own wardrobe (though some of her jewellery is shockingly similar to Jean’s custom pieces), her own name and her own life centred in and around Kensington Market.
But the informants are disappearing, even turning up dead, and Jean starts to fear she’s in danger. As her imagination spins out of control, her grip on reality dissolves and everything she—and the reader—understands is called into question.
Dizzyingly spellbinding, powerfully gripping and utterly absorbing, this book blurs reality in such a transfixing way that every now and then while reading, I had to look around to ground myself again in the real Toronto. I wish I could start this book all over again (without knowing the outcome, of course) but am absolutely thrilled that this is the first installment in a triptych of loosely related fictions by author Michael Redhill. I hope the next is just as haunting and hypnotizing.
Q&A WITH AUTHOR MICHAEL REDHILL
Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square