The Prolific Tales of Lesley Crewe
The bestselling author gets personal in her new novel, but she’s as relatable as ever
Lesley Crewe is a prolific storyteller. Since 2005, readers have been hooked on her down-to-earth, easily relatable tales of family, relationships, love and loss.
Crewe’s 14th book, Nosy Parker, will be released this summer. The book takes readers to 1967 Montreal and a year in the life of 12-year-old Audrey Parker, a bright, inquisitive girl, who, while on a quest to uncover a family mystery, experiences the ups and downs of moving into adolescence, alongside a cast of eclectic and mostly loving characters.
When asked about the main character, Audrey, Crewe says Audrey “came to me just as she is (in the book). As soon as I had the name Nosy Parker, I thought, okay, I know exactly who she is.”
Sharing many of the same experiences as Audrey, including living in the same Montreal neighbourhood, Crewe also had Audrey’s childhood curiosity, love of words and reading. She also loved listening to her writer father typing on his typewriter. Crewe feels that when she was going through many of her childhood experiences, she wasn’t quite as aware and articulate as Audrey. “I think I was a younger version (of her).”
Nosy Parker is full of funny, sad and sometimes shocking moments from Audrey’s–and Crewe’s–life, including at home with her father, her relationships with her multicultural and close-knit neighbours, her experiences at school and with her teachers, and more.
Crewe’s books, including Nosy Parker, draw upon “all those little things gathered in my brain. These are the things that I want to put in my books as much for myself as anybody else, just to remember those little moments. I think that’s what people love about the books because this is what their lives are as well.”
Crewe believes that life is about the little moments and her readers appreciate that and can relate. “We all have junk drawers. We’ve all worn pajamas for the last two years. If I mention stuff like that, people nod. I’m not talking about anything esoteric. I’m just picking up on what we all go through.”
Crewe goes on to say, “I love the ordinary moments because your whole life is made up of ordinary moments. When you look back, wouldn’t you just love to have your grandmother at the kitchen table again?”
Of her books and their impact, she says, “They’re so easy to read and there’s nothing difficult about them. I’m creating the words, enough so you can see the picture in your head and it’s a picture that we’re all familiar with.”
Nosy Parker is dedicated to Crewe’s father and is based in large part on him. Although some details differ, she says it’s the basis of the man he was. “My friend said your father was with you when writing this book.” Crewe’s father, also a writer, died before she wrote her first book, Relative Happiness.
Nosy Parker took just a month to write. “It just came,” she says. After an intense month of writing, she went to a sandbar at her home in Cape Breton and “cried and cried and cried …I was really happy to have him back. I wanted him in a place where I could get at him.”
When reflecting on her writing journey, Crewe says, “I started writing for my own reasons. It was mostly just to try to figure out how to explain my world and what had happened. I’ve always used writing to try to figure out life. So, I’ve only ever written for myself, and I never intended to be published.”