Kather­ine Ashen­burg,

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73, says her at­ten­tion spans lasts about 10 years. She spent a decade as an aca­demic, spe­cial­iz­ing in Dick­ens be­fore be­com­ing a CBC Ra­dio pro­ducer for an­other decade, pro­duc­ing doc­u­men­taries. After that, she was the Globe and Mail’s arts and books editor. Ashen­burg has writ­ten five books in­clud­ing Go­ing to Town, The Mourner’ s Dance: What We Do When Peo­ple Die and The Dirt on Clean: An Un­san­i­tized His­tory, a his­tory of per­sonal hy­giene.

Set in Swe­den, Sofie & Ce­cilia is Ashen­burg’s first novel and was cho­sen as Knopf Canada’s New Face of Fic­tion (mak­ing her the old­est de­but au­thor in their line-up). The novel is a story about a life­long women’s friend­ship and is loosely based on the lives of artists Cal Lars­son and An­ders Zorn and their wives, the name­sakes of the ti­tle, who were artists in their own right. “The third and fi­nal part of the novel is called ‘Red,’” ex­plains the au­thor. “That’s be­cause I wanted to cel­e­brate the way my two hero­ines blos­som in old age. Red stands for pas­sion in work and love, the ful­fil­ment of a slow­grow­ing in­ti­mate friend­ship and glo­ri­ous sun­sets – in their last years, Sofie and Ce­cilia have them all.” Adds Ashen­burg, “And I’m hop­ing for at least 10 years in my new­est ca­reer as a nov­el­ist.”

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