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Close to the Fire

Close to the Fire

115 pages
Published:   May 1, 1999
Fiction  /  Novels
Paperback:   9780864922724    $14.95

A snug country house, a snowy landscape in a place that could be Prince Edward Island, a small-town lawyer bumbling through an emotional crisis — Close to the Fire is a winter's tale that warms the heart while gently chilling the blood. Many years ago, the lawyer (then a student) persuaded the woman who is now his wife to desert Orland, her older husband, and run away with him. Now Orland arrives on their doorstep to die. The lawyer recalls the moral force her exerted to make Marijke change loyalties instead of simply enjoying a little adultery. Does sheltering a dying man atone for stealing his wife? The lawyer doesn't know and isn't sure he cares until a dramatic fire and Orland's death rearrange the domestic hearth.


David Helwig (1938-2018) grew up in Ontario and lived in Belfast, Prince Edward Island. He founded the Best Canadian Stories series, and he was the author of sixteen books of fiction and numerous works of non-fiction, including poetry, memoir, documentary and translation. His most recent work of fiction was Close to the Fire (Goose Lane, 1999), a novella, and the novel, The Time of Her Life (Goose Lane, 2000). "Missing Notes" appeared in ArtsAtlantic (61) and was selected for 98: Best Canadian Stories.


"A quirky little morality play, told with humour." — Globe and Mail

"A fine concatenation of fire, wind, death, and birth, with lashings of drama and food, Close to the Fire is tightly scripted, mordantly funny, and wise." — Quill & Quire

"Delicious and disturbing... a quick and powerful read that chills and warms at exactly the same time." — The Coast

"A supernatural cameraman, taking perfectly framed pictures inside the mind and out." — Books in Canada

"A master of natural dialogue and evocative sketches." — Publishers Weekly

"A chronicler extraordinaire." — Ottawa Citizen

"A plot rife with possibilities." — Toronto Star