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The Players
The Players

The Players

Two French explorers arrive in Court to charm two ships from the English King. The rest, as they say, is history...` Or perhaps not. Set in the libertine era of Restoration England, The Players embarks on a voyage of discovery with compelling characters, a magical plot, and stunning imagery.

A tale of beginnings and of invention, this remarkable novel takes on the 17th century with a contemporary sensibility. Here, the ability to perform — in Court, on stage, in private quarters, and in the brutal cold of James Bay — might save your life... and Lilly Cole must play along with the best of them.

Sly, provocative, and ingeniously funny, Sweatman's prose explores the deep well of human motivation, how instinct trumps reason when survival is in question.


A playwright and lyricist, Margaret Sweatman is the author of three novels. Together they've won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award, the John Hirsch Award, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Margaret Laurence Award, the Sunburst Award, and the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award. Margaret Sweatman performs with the Broken Songs Band. She won a Genie Award for the song "When Wintertime."

"A florid and engaging read." — Scene

"The tale of a young woman, determined, scrappy, hungry. And with its tantalizing ending, the totemic publishing word trilogy comes to mind. Sweatman seems to reach for more than just a good story. She wants to explore the power gap between men and women, the clash of cultures, the greed and curiosity behind the business venture that led to the Hudson Bay Company. The result is a detailed, sometimes effusive telling of the tale of a young woman, determined, scrappy, hungry. And with its tantalizing ending, the totemic publishing word trilogy comes to mind." — Winnipeg Free Press

"Sweatman does not shrink from presenting the times in all their brazen glory. She writes erotic with the best. Bursting with good humour and refreshing in its willful ignorance of political correctness, Sweatman's writing flows as smoothly as a muscular northern river, with a stunning control of voice. She keeps the reader engaged every moment, introducing us to a company of intriguing characters, and makes good use of fastidious detail." — The Globe and Mail

"Richly set in Restoration England and Canada's then virtually unknown northern wilds, this is a wonderfully humourous tale filled with playful language." — The Sun Times

"An eloquent and suspenceful work that captures the realities of three different worlds, showing us the glimpses of the world in transition — the unstable motherland, the liminal space of the voyage, and the unforging wilderness — and the adaptability of humans that survive them." — Maple Tree Literary Supplement

"The Players tells the artful, awful truth about Canadian history. In getting to this truth, it uncovers history as a haunting of all of our stories." — Malahat Review

"Women and their interior lives are Sweatman's territory and she treats these familiar subjects with depth, beauty and tenderness." — >i>Prairie Fire Review of Books

"Sweatman provides many moments of poetically rendered insights in the novel. Readers will glean from The Players the kind of fraught satisfaction that defines memorably fine fiction." — Event Magazine

"Sweatman often ficionalizes Manitoban and Canadian history in her novels. With The Players, she widens her focus. The result is a rollicking ride, with intrigue, comedy and strong characters. It's delicious." — Uptown Magazine

"Beautifully crafted, carefully researched." — Calgary Beacon

"If it is true that 'a storyteller carries his house on his back,' Sweatman must sport a spectacular dowager's hump. The Players is a story of survival, laced with political, physical and spiritual dangers. By the time the cast of characters look for their exits, we need no further convincing of Sweatman's talent as a wordsmith." — Telegraph-Journal

332 pages
Pub date: September 4, 2009