portrait of a scandal

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  • 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 seven 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 new book, Portrait of a Scandal: The Abortion Trial of Robert Notman, is published by Véhicule Press.

  • Praise for Portrait of a Scandal 

    "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