RACE AGGIE SMART TO THE FINISH LINE...'An appealing tale of the odd girl out' Independent on Sunday
Aganetha Smart was a poor farm girl who could run like the wind, but this was rural Canada in the 1920s when girls didn't run, or dream of the Olympics and they certainly didn't win.
Aganetha Smart was about to change all that.
Girl Runner, Carrie Snyder's debut novel, is the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten by history. For Aganetha, a competitive and ambitious woman, her life remains present and unfinished in her mind.
When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario and her struggles to make an independent life for herself in the city.
Without revealing who they are, or what they may want from her, the visitors take Aganetha on an outing from the nursing home. As ready as ever for adventure, Aganetha's memories are stirred when the pair return her to the family farm where she was raised. The devastation of WWI and the Spanish flu epidemic, the optimism of the 1920s and the sacrifices of the 1930s play out in Aganetha's mind, as she wrestles with the confusion and displacement of the present.
Part historical page-turner, part contemporary mystery, Girl Runner is an engaging and endearing story about family, ambition, athletics and the dedicated pursuit of one's passions. It is also, ultimately, about a woman who follows the singular, heart-breaking and inspiring course of her life until the very end.
An appealing tale of the "odd girl out"... Based loosely on a real figure, Aganetha's story explores what it means to be an icon to a generation. But mainly this is a family story, a tale of sisters and brothers lost to one another through illness or war... Families are harbingers of of secrets and lies, and Snyder teases out the various hidden tensions with skill, moving back and forth in time to good effect. - Independent on Sunday
Right from the start, the voice of Aganetha Smart, a one-time Olympic runner, now aged 104 and living in a home, grabs you. And it doesn't let go until the very last page of this original and moving story. At time, it has something of the quirky charm of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, though the setting - rural Canada - couldn't be more different...the extraordinary backstory of this frail, old lady keeps you engrossed - Daily Mail
The book hurtles through the 20th century in rich technicolor. It is not only a portrait of a life, but a portrait of an entire century. The role of the strangers in Aganetha's life, as well as the reliability of Aganetha's own memory create a book which is not only a vivid historical piece but also has all the ingredients of a contemporary mystery novel. The character of Aganetha is easy to like, reflective and warm on the subject of her life's greatest driving forces: family, athletics and her own unfaltering ambition. Girl Runner would be a terrific book group read, a real page-turner which is overflowing with discussion points. - We Love This Book
a valuable reminder of how hard women have had to fight to be taken seriously as runners... it's a joy to read about a woman finding pleasure in her body that isn't sex or diet-based. Long may running provide this escape for all of us, men and women alike - Independent on Sunday
Carrie Snyder has written an extraordinary, accomplished debut novel of love and family: a wonderful story of a free spirit forced to make difficult choices. Aggie Smart is a truly memorable heroine: she grabbed my hand on page one and never let go. - Sara Gruen, internationally bestselling author of WATER FOR ELEPHANTS
Carrie Snyder is the author of two books of short fiction. Her second, The Juliet Stories, soon to be published by Two Roads, was a finalist for Canada's Governor General's Award and a Globe and Mail Top 100 book. Girl Runner, her debut novel, has been shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
Carrie lives in Waterloo, Ontario with her family and blogs as Obscure CanLit Mama.