Frustrated and disenchanted with farm life and her marriage, Cherry Markowsky grabs her dog and heads toward a brand new beginning in the City of Saskatoon. Yet between dealing with a new career, a potential suitor, a drifting son, and a newly-discovered quirk of her brother's, Cherry discovers this is only the first of the hurdles she must jump.
"Set in Saskatchewan, Cherry Blossoms is women's
fiction, written by a man, and very good."
- Mary Balogh, New York Times Bestselling Author
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"Wes Funk's Cherry Blossoms is an honest narrative on the life of a woman torn by her desire to matter, while feeling disconnected in her current state. The author's lyrical style draws the reader into the main character's body and mind during the torment of the decisions which face her. Beautifully written, this novel is sure to engage and be embraced by those who read it."
- Andrea Nair, professional speaker and author of Stripped Down Running
"Funk is a skilled and talented writer, and Cherry Blossoms is a lovely read, full of intriguing people and landscapes I'd love to get to know better."
- Jean Freeman, children's book author and star of Corner Gas
"I love the book - I love the feeling of it in my hands, I love the cover, I love the title, and best of all, I love Cherry herself."
- Klara Kesmarky-Miller, author of Leaving
"I can't put this book down. It is so cool. Now I see why my audience members tell me that they read fiction to escape, I get it now! Funk is one talented guy!"
- Darci Lang, Motivational Speaker/Author
"Wes Funk's laid-back prose encapsulates his characters; many of them seem like people you've passed walking down the street of your prairie town. Too many regional authors think that prairie writing means long-winded stories about grain elevators. Not Funk - his rebel spirit makes him the epitome of the modern prairie writer. His writing is easy, funny, unpretentious, and best of all - honest."
- Craig Silliphant, writer/critic/broadcaster
"Funk magnificently develops a compelling story about one woman's journey of self-discovery. Cherry searches for her place in the world and Funk confidently transforms her into a blossoming, mature, and sophisticated woman. Cherry Blossoms is a must read of diversity and courage."
- Marion Mutala, author of Baba's Babushka
"My entire C95 Radio Book Club eagerly awaited Wes Funk's new novel Cherry Blossoms! His books captivate people - I get so drawn into the lives of his characters, I feel like I know them personally - and that is not easy for any author to accomplish! Hearing a brief description of Cherry, I already knew I would love and embrace her like all the other 'friends' Wes has introduced me to with his craft. Sitting down with a Wes Funk book is like curling up with an old friend and chatting the afternoon away. Hours fly! In my case, I blast through the novel because it really is that captivating. Wes' stories are like home to me and that's why I am always anxious to introduce them to my book club and to my listeners! Cherry Blossoms is a welcome addition to my library!"
- Shauna Foster, Saskatoon radio personality and book club president
The Homeliness of the Heart's Affection: Wes Funk’s
Cherry Blossoms, Dec 14 2012
By J. Jill Robinson - Customer Review on Amazon.ca
When I was studying creative writing at the University of Alaska: Fairbanks, my thesis supervisor, who had grown up in a rural community in the South, encouraged us would-be writers not to worry about metaphor, about symbolism, about underlying themes. He said that those things would rise up in our writing without our actively fretting about them. He encouraged me to put down the academic lens I had taken up in grad school at the Univ. of Calgary, and to do my best to “just tell a good story.” Tell a good story. That was it. And it’s harder to do than you might think. Keeping it simple, keeping it spare, writing careful, clean sentences, avoiding excess, and brushing in the exact right number of details the narrative needs to help it come alive, and to enrich the reader’s reading experience.
My supervisor—Frank Soos-- would like Wes Funk’s new novel, Cherry Blossoms, for Funk has definitely told us a good story—and by that I don’t mean one with a big, complicated action-packed story driven by plot. I wouldn’t call Cherry Blossoms ‘driven’ in any way, though what engages the reader from beginning to end and draws her forward is character. There is complete engagement with, interest in, and love for character. And yes, those other attributes of good literature are there too, without contriving. It needs to be commented on, too, how hard it is to write such a clean and strong narrative, and I know from experience how difficult it also is to be consistent throughout—in tone, and in pacing. How difficult it can be to make the writing even, while making the story-telling seem effortless. Funk succeeds.
Reading Cherry Blossoms I am swept back to Saskatchewan. I know this place Wes Funk has rendered so well, rendered with the intimate knowledge only a local could convey. And the characters! They aren’t created somewhere else and then placed in a fictional landscape; rather, they emerge naturally from a very real and familiar one.
The main character, Cherry Markowsky, is unhappy in her marriage and tired of life on the farm. She loads up her Datsun truck with a few belongings and her little dog Ruffles, and heads out to find a new life in Saskatoon, a life more exotic, poetic, and fulfilling. She rents a wartime house, lands a job in an eclectic clothing store, reconnects with some colourful family members, and starts dating. It’s a pleasure to accompany her, to get up close to her through Funk’s close third person point of view.
The names of the characters are perfect, and endearing, beginning with Cherry herself. Cherry’s husband is Dermot, their son Tristan. Her brother is Ivan, his boyfriend Lorenzo. Cherry’s young, single, pregnant boss is Electra. And then there’s Cherry’s new date, Hunt. And Ruffles the dog (who is handled with as much care and love as all the humans in the story). And Iris, Cherry’s sister-in-law, whose character Funk nails with the briefest of evocative descriptions. Cherry is meeting Iris for lunch, and when Iris eventually shows up, Cherry watches her approach: Iris looked worn out and unkempt, her ash-blond hair tied back in a sloppy ponytail and her faded jeans a little too tight for her heavy hips.
Farmers like Dermot don’t talk any more than they have to, though Cherry does manage to prod her husband enough to get him to come out and say what he’s feeling about her departure. Funk clips the narrative to help us get that diction just right: “If I seem a little pissed off, it’s ‘cause I am. Seems to me I got screwed. I got screwed real bad. We took vows. We made a pledge to each other. And then one day, you just froze up on me. No how or why, you just got cold, like the weather out there,” he gestured at the window. “And then you decide to jump ship and leave me here with all this to deal with.” He waved around the room. The farm, he meant. The house. Their life.
To those who didn’t experience Saskatchewan growing up or
who weren’t lucky enough to live there for a number of years, as I did,
it can seem an exotic place. To enter the prairie mindset, a reader needs
to slow right down, not be in any hurry to get somewhere. The narrative
is not unlike a prairie landscape—there may seem not to be a whole lot going
on when you first roll down your window and sweep your eyes across the landscape.
But turn off your car and get out. Walk a while under that big sky. Get
a sense of your own insignificance, your own human vulnerability. And then
walk towards the farmhouse, where the novel opens with the line,“One thing
about a Saskatchewan summer, it sure makes for a good garden.” And so the
tone is set, and Funk’s narrative begins.
Funk’s writing is unpretentious, the tone is friendly, warm, and homely--in the most positive sense of the word. Here’s a post-Christmas dinner example:
Hearing water running in the kitchen sink, she turned and watched Hunt and Ivan wash and dry the dishes Electra brought from the table. The kitchen windows ran with condensation from the steaming dishwater and the warm bodies in the small room. Cherry herself scrabbled through the cupboards, looking for enough plastic containers (and lids that would fit them) to pack the leftovers into. This more than anything was the wearying part of any big meal, she thought. It was like packing a car trunk or playing Tetris, trying to figure out which container would fit which leftovers and how in hell she was going to cram it all into the fridge when she was done. Funny how, no matter how you thought you’d gauged it, there was always enough food for two or three meals. Funny how that happened every year; even now, when so much else had changed.
In every aspect of Cherry Blossoms there is an openness,
a gentle honesty, and a pleasing simplicity. Form reflects content: Funk
uses a straightforward, basically linear narrative contained in conventional
chapters. He uses a close third-person point of view that gets us comfortably
close up and personal with Cherry. In terms of subject matter Funk doesn’t
shy away from or sugar coat anything his characters encounter or experience,
but he doesn’t draw inordinate attention to it, either. He sees through
the eyes of a local. The folksiness is that of Twain, of Leacock, but with
its own Funk hallmark. Here’s an example. Cherry has driven down to Davidson:
It had been too long since she had stood in front of her parents’ graves. Back when she lived a mere handful of miles from the cemetery, the graveyard was a place she often came for solace and tranquility when things got to her. Being here now gave her a sense of vertigo, as if no time had passed and she would get back into the car when she was done and drive back to her home with Dermot on the farm, her new life in Saskatoon suddenly as unreal as Mexico.
The best books make a reader regret having to arrive at the end, and that was my experience with Cherry Blossoms. I am sorry to leave Saskatchewan and these remarkable characters behind. Thanks, Wes Funk, for the touching and entertaining visit, and a completely engaging story.