Our Book of the Month for February is The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc.

We talked to Amanda this month about her new novel, questions she hopes are brought up while you’re reading and further learning you can do if inspired. 

Amanda Leduc’s brilliant new novel, woven with fairy tales of her own devising and replete with both catastrophe and magic, is a vision of what happens when we ignore the natural world and the darker parts of our own natures.

Heather is sleeping peacefully after the birth of her twin daughters when the sound of the world ending jolts her awake. Stumbling outside with her babies and her new husband, Brendan, she finds that their city has been destroyed by falling meteors and that her little family are among only a few who survived…

At times devastating, but ultimately redemptive, Amanda Leduc’s fable for our uncertain times reminds us that the most important things in life aren’t things at all, but rather the people we want by our side at the end of the world.

How do you build a world that makes room for who you are?

One of the many questions at the heart of The Centaur’s Wife, an apocalyptic fairy tale about desire, grief and what happens when your world is devastated. The Centaur’s Wife sprouted from a short story written in 2014 and similarly to the novel, it was burned down and re-written several times until it grew into the final novel. Partially informed by her work on her non-fiction study, Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability and Making Space (Coach House Books, 2020) and coming to terms with her own identity as a disabled person, Leduc says The Centaur’s Wife had to wait for Disfigured. She says it “was only after writing Disfigured that I became the person I needed to be to write The Centaur’s Wife.” 

The two books certainly feed off each other, with Disfigured offering a more critical look at the work of The Brothers Grimm and Disney and how we should make space for new narratives. Disfigured challenges the notion that only princesses and those deemed beautiful deserve a happy ending and The Centaur’s Wife is here to continue that conversation and bring welcomed representation to the Fantasy genre.

When readers finish The Centaur’s Wife Leduc hopes they come away with a feeling of hope, saying “the only way people can move forward and survive grief or trauma is through creating community.” She hopes to inspire conversations around managing grief, especially during the pandemic where we are all handling loss on a daily basis. How do we discuss grief? And how does it upend our lives?

Further reading that Leduc recommends is Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty First Century by Alice Wong; the work of Harriet McBryde Johnson, her essay Unspeakable Conversations can be found here, as well as her two books: Too Late to Die Youngand Accidents of Nature; as well as the work of Ross Showalter, highlighting his essay Writing Fantasy Lets Me Show the Whole Truth of Disability

Stay tuned for Amanda’s (@AmandaLeduc) twitter takeover on February 23th!