"Julian Fairfax had loved furtively and unwisely. What he called his latest lapse was the Brat, an artist more than twenty years his junior. When the young man met Julian, he told him that he, Julian, had the face of a violin virtuoso. Julian began to look at his face in a new way. The Brat was right. He did have the face of a violinist. Perhaps also it was the face one might expect to see on a gracefully aging ballet instructor. The Brat had also told Julian that he walked lke a dancer. It was true. Julian walked just like a dancer."

This novella is set in barren Saskatoon and sumptuous Victoria. It is the story of Julian Fairfax, an aging gay librarian who has remained in the closet all his life. He is slowly turning grey from the soul outward, but when a friend phones him one night and asks for help, he is suddenly released into a bizarre world of smuggling, adventure, and perhaps even love.

Jewels cover



Critical Response

Carpenter . . . wanting to engage his readers quickly, arms himself with a dazzling sense of linguistic detail and a deft control of his sketching pen.

- Ian Nelson, Perceptions.

This tale is surrealistic, yet enough raw fact emerges to anchor the reader firmly within an allegory celebrating mid-life crisis as a spiritual rite of passage. . . . [This novella] establishes Carpenter as a craftsman who steps easily beyond the mundane to explore the just and humane aspects of living.

- Sharon Drache, Ottawa Citizen.

This is a jewel of a novella, one of... craftsmanship and artistry. There is craftsmanship in the dovetailing of incident, the realization of character, and the achieved sense of place. There is artistry in the suiting of craft to concept so that another kind of place takes shape: a place for misfits, the tired and forgotten ... a place of the heart, a home. Perhaps some of my pleasure in reading Jewels derives from my own taste for more than just a good read, for the "conceal/disclose" [form] of narrative and for the use of fiction to broaden sympathies as well as perspectives. More objectively, however, it can be maintained that this is a story that invites and repays re-reading.

- Hetty Clews, NeWest Review.

Elegantly entertaining, Jewels is the story of a most unlikely set of criminal conspirators. . . . [It is] readable, sometimes funny, often very moving.

- Joan McGrath, Canadian Book Review Annual.


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