We grant men a right to solitude. Why can't we do the same for women?
Born into a wealthy family in northern England and sent to boarding school to be educated by nuns, Ivory Frame rebels. She escapes to inter-war Paris, where she finds herself through art, and falls in with the most brilliantly bohemian set- the surrealists.
Torn between an intoxicating love affair with a married Russian painter and her soaring ambition to create, Ivory's life is violently interrupted by the Second World War. She flees from Europe, leaving behind her friends, her art, and her love.
Now over ninety, Ivory labours defiantly in the frozen north on her last, greatest work - a vast account of animal languages - alone except for her sharp research assistant, Skeet.
And then unexpected news from the past arrives- this magnificently fervent, complex woman is told that she has a grandchild, despite never having had a child of her own ...
'The Dictionary of Animal Languages is such a special book, suffused with an almost painterly intelligence. Sopinka's characters experience the world with an intensity we associate with children and visionaries. Watching them navigate the difficulties of the humdrum and the glamorous both is a distinctive, if unsettling, pleasure.'
-Rivka Galchen, author of American Innovations and Atmospheric Disturbances
'With stunning prose, lavish details, deep wisdom, and emotional precision, reading this book is like falling in love - my interest in everything else was lost.'
-Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal
'The Dictionary of Animal Languages shifts between past and present, across beautifully-rendered landscapes and soundscapes. In the foreground in sharp focus, an inner world, the story of a woman's life, a life spent in rebellion from society, domesticity, and definition. Sensual and sensory, this is a story about the strength of the h