"I thought I was going to write a novel about the burning of the Parliament buildings in Montreal in 1849, a famous event in the city’s history. I ended up writing a work of creative nonfiction about a totally unknown page in the city’s past. From that small, private event, however, I was able to fan out in a number of directions that allowed me to peer through a metaphorical window and survey 19th century laws and mores. It enabled me to learn—and to pass on to my readers what I learned—a great deal about Victorian medicine, photography, and behind-the-scenes gossip. Was I able to solve all the riddles? No I was not. But history is mystery. And the whole truth of even a true story remains shadowed."
--Elaine Kalman Naves
Elaine travelled to Germany to take part in the trial of Oskar Groening. To learn more about her story, read more about it in the following links:
News coverage from Canada:
News coverage from Germany:
|Talk and Signing|
Nov 29th - 1:30am
Elaine will read from and speak about writing The Book of Faith at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa.
Soloway Jewish Community Centre, Ottawa, ON
Welcome to the website of Montreal writer, journalist, editor, and lecturer Elaine Kalman Naves. Elaine was born in Hungary, and grew up in Budapest, London, and Montreal. For many years she was literary columnist for the Montreal Gazette, and is the author of eight books. Among them are the award-winning memoirs Journey to Vaja: Reconstructing the World of a Hungarian-Jewish Family and Shoshanna's Story: A Mother, A Daughter, and the Shadows of History. Elaine's other books include: The Writers of Montreal; Putting Down Roots: Montreal's Immigrant Writers; Storied Streets: Montreal in the Literary Imagination (co-written with Bryan Demchinsky); and Robert Weaver: Godfather of Canadian Literature. Elaine is a frequent contributor to CBC Radio's Ideas, where her most recent project was about the great 19th-century Montreal photographer, William Notman. Elaine's honours include a Canadian Literary Award for Personal Essay, two Quebec Writers' Federation prizes for non-fiction, and two Jewish Book Awards for Holocaust Literature. Her 2013 book, Portrait of a Scandal: The Abortion Trial of Robert Notman, shed light on a secret page in Canadian history. The Book of Faith, Elaine’s forthcoming title, is her first novel. It will be published in September by Linda Leith Publishing.
"In The Book of Faith, Elaine Kalman Naves is as wise about 21st century synagogue intrigues and middle-age romances as Jane Austen was about early 18th century English drawing rooms. In fact, if Austen were around today—and Jewish, of course—I’m betting this is the kind of novel she’d be writing. Kalman Naves’s story of love and loss, female friendship and hard-earned resilience is fast-paced, heartfelt and sharply observant. The Book of Faith is a serious delight."
– Joel Yanofsky, author of Bad Animals and Mordecai & Me.
"The Book of Faith is an incisive, funny, and moving exploration of the lives of three women – one of them the eponymous Faith – over the course of a tumultuous year and a half of challenges both personal and public. Conveying the particulars of Jewish Montreal with an almost documentary realism, it will speak powerfully to anyone who has tried to integrate their own ethnic and religious heritage into contemporary society."
– Susan Glickman, author of The Tale-Teller and Safe as Houses.
Interview in Montreal Review of Books by Sarah Fletcher
Read the article
The Book of Faith published by Linda Leith Publishing
"This history has it all: desire and illicit sex, privilege and penury, fame and infamy, the dramatic momentum of an absorbing novel. ...
"Kalman Naves have a novelist's eye and a historian's sleuth-like instincts, with the tenacity of both."
– Ami Sands Brodoff
"Portrait of a Scandal has the air, build-up and tension of a courtroom procedural as historian Elaine Kalman Naves skillfully leads us through the abortion trial of Robert Notman, brother and trusted associate of the great photographer, William Notman. At a time when desperate North American women turned to abortion to end unwanted pregnancies, the judge made Robert’s trial a showcase for his personal vendetta against “this germ of destruction, this moral epidemic” rotting society. In Kalman Naves’ capable hands, Notman’s story is a spellbinding glimpse into the intimate lives of privileged Montrealers, illustrated by stunning photographs of all the principal characters, including Notman’s flamboyant defence lawyer and his nemesis, the plodding but determined prosecutor, and even the doctor who committed suicide [over the case].”
– Elizabeth Abbott