Shelby Van Pelt, author of the luminous debut, Remarkably Bright Creatures, discusses her novel at 7 p.m. May 16 at the Helena Civic Center. Montana Book Company will be selling books the night of the event.
“Shelby Van Pelt has done the impossible,” writes Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. “She’s created a perfect story with imperfect characters, that is so heartwarming, so mysterious, and so completely absorbing, you won’t be able to put it down because when you’re not reading this book you’ll be hugging it.”
Published by Ecco/HarperCollins (US) and Bloomsbury (UK) in Spring 2022, the novel tells the story of a widow’s unlikely friendship with a giant Pacific octopus reluctantly residing at the local aquarium—and the truths she finally uncovers about her son’s disappearance 30 years ago.
After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her 18-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in the Puget Sound over 30 years ago.
As she works, Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine, but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight tentacles for his human captors – until he forms an unlikely friendship with Tova.
Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. As his affection for Tova grows, Marcellus must use every trick his old, invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late. Charming, compulsively readable, and full of wit, Van Pelt’s novel explores friendship, reckoning, and hope – an offers a reminder that sometimes taking a hard look at the past can help uncover a future that once felt impossible.
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Van Pelt now resides in the Chicago area with her husband and two children.
The free Evening with the Author is sponsored by the Lewis & Clark Library and Lewis & Clark Library Foundation.