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The Inextinguishable Dream cover

  • Paperback Edition
    • 978-1-03-917269-2
    • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 348 pages
  • Hardcover Edition
    • 978-1-03-917270-8
    • 6.0 x 9.0 inches
    • Black & White interior
    • 348 pages
  • Keywords
    • Grief and loss,
    • Family secrets,
    • Starting over,
    • Marriage and divorce,
    • Inner journey,
    • parent and child,
    • Relationships

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The Inextinguishable Dream
by Wendy Brandts

At dawn, Cass slips quietly out the front door of the Blue House, not meaning to upend the lives of those she leaves behind. Cass, a gifted but emotionally unstable mathematician, and her sister Sylvia, an artist, have never agreed on motherhood, on marriage, on how to live. But they share the belief that they must create lasting work, Sylvia welding iron sculptures, Cass solving equations to simplify the world. When Cass disappears, Sylvia must fight to keep her already fragile world from collapsing, and her precocious and deeply curious daughter, Erika, from discovering the devastating family secrets that live within the Blue House. The Inextinguishable Dream is a deeply moving story about ambition and motherhood, identity and loss, transience and memory, and the overpowering human desire to escape into delusions. Drawing on the physics of time, the author enjoins us to ponder the meaning of life, love, death, and the universe while conveying profound awe for the beauty and mystery of the world. It was inspired by the author’s experiences as a woman in the male-dominated world of science; the conflicts between motherhood, marriage, and career; and the need for those of us who do not fit the mould, especially gifted children, to be accepted.

“A mix of Anne Michaels, Annie Proulx, and Faulkner.” —Colin McAdam, author, Banff Centre “Brilliant, gutting…vivid, stunning, lasting.” —Robin MacArthur, author, Vermont College of Fine Arts “The Inextinguishable Dream is about life. Its beauty, its randomness, its perplexity. It is about how the scientific laws of the universe get tangled up into our own human story. This is a wonderful novel.” —Mary Borsky, author, Ottawa

This book was published posthumously, following Wendy’s passing on May 23, 2022, after a yearlong journey that began with a cancer diagnosis. It is a measure of her commitment to excellence and her indomitable spirit that she continued to polish the manuscript even in her last months, finishing it in March 2022. The result is this novel — insightful, achingly beautiful, full of wonder, and at times riotously funny, just like Wendy herself. She ardently conveyed to those around her the deep awe she felt for the beauty and mystery of the natural world and human life. From an early age, she wondered – and also worried – about the meaning and randomness of life and death, a theme woven throughout these pages. Even as a child, she wrote poems about mice contemplating the stars and their return to the dust of the universe at the end of their life. The youngest of five daughters of Dutch immigrants, Wendy grew up in the small mill town of Grand-Mère, Québec, where her father was a scientist. She went on to study at the University of Toronto, completing a PhD in theoretical physics. She also trained in classical guitar for a decade, and earned an acting certificate in her spare time. She pursued science partly in the hope of taming the existential questions that permeate the novel. These include our struggle to comprehend causation and the course of time from our narrow, though enlightened, human perspective. She continued this quest through postdoctoral work in mathematical biology at the University of Oxford from 1990—1992. Near the end of her time there, she met her future husband, André Longtin, eventually settling in Ottawa and becoming the mother of two sons, both gifted, like Erika, the young girl in the novel. She wrote several scientific papers and co-authored the monograph Physical Theory in Biology, published by World Scientific in 1997. It was during this time that she felt increasingly drawn to literary writing rather than science, which fell short in answering life’s big questions, especially in shedding light on our understanding of memory and the legacy of our short lives. She published several short stories and poems in literary magazines, including The Antigonish Review, Descant, and This Magazine. She won awards in The Great Canadian Literary Hunt, Room Fiction, Lush Triumphant, and other contests. An active member of the writing community, she attended writers’ workshops and residencies, such as The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the Community of Writers, and Sage Hill Writing. Wendy was known for her wit and glowing smile, her dedication and caring towards her loved ones, and her passionate, adventurous, and inquisitive spirit. She aptly titled her novel “The Inextinguishable Dream” to underscore our universal quest to make sense of life, love, and loss. A true inspiration to follow one’s path and dreams, her creative life has left the world a better place. One passage from an early draft of the book, which she later decided to omit, encapsulates the unique perspective with which Wendy approached this quest. Imbued with the wit and the deep insight that she brought to both her lived and her literary world, this whimsical passage posits the existence of a new class of elementary particles. Applying a physicist’s approach to her musings, young Erika imagines these particles, which she calls “chancicles”, to make sense of the world.


Wendy Brandts

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