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Book Review: Hand Drawn Vancouver, by Emma FitzGerald

June 22, 2020

I have here in my hand a copy of Emma Fitzgerald’s third book, Hand Drawn Vancouver. <– affilate link, thx. (151pp, Appetite / Pengin Random House, $US19.95/$CDN24.97).

When Emma asked if I’d take an advance look, I was happy to agree. Who could say no to another one of her guided tours? I’m a big fan of her first two offerings: Hand Drawn Halifax and Sketch By Sketch Along Nova Scotia’s South Shore.

I gather she’s lived in a lot of places, and I think it’s given her the ability to be a local anywhere.

When she takes on a city, she walks it’s length and breadth in all four seasons, gathering stories and sketches, and a carefully-sifted collection of first-hand observations, eavesdropped conversations and street-side confessionals.

When you first flip through the book, it’s the charming drawings that grab you. Her keen-eyed, quirky sketches are fun and full of little details.

But it’s the stories that make you read every page – and in doing so, fall in love with Vancouver. Or, Emma’s version of a warm and friendly Vancouver with an undertone of real-world grit. Real people living real lives.

People love to find an artist sketching on the street. It seems to flip a switch that makes them willing to tell you the best stories. The way the world would be if you were everyone’s friend.

Emma’s book is full of exchanges with folks, that go from stranger to closest confidant in the time it takes to draw a line. It makes you want to live her life! She has a different world from the rest of us – with our earphones in and our podcasts playing.

I highly recommend Hand Drawn Vancouver – whether you collect art books, or you’re looking for a souvenir of the city – or if you want the perfect gift for a visitor.

Hand someone this book and you’ll instantly accrue Emma’s hard-won street cred. They’ll feel like they know the town like a local born stepchild. There should certainly be a copy in every AirBnB in the city!

Hand Drawn Vancouver, Sketches of the City’s Neighbourhoods, Buildings and People, available in Print and ebook on June 23 on the usual online retailers, or direct from Random House Canada– or best of all – phone in an order with your local independent bookstore.


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