The father character in the work is a Vietnam War veteran, based on Skibsrud’s own father.
The main character is a young woman trying to unpack and reconcile her father’s wartime experiences with their 21st-century lives.
Skibsrud’s second novel, Quartet for the End of Time (Hamish Hamilton, 2014), shares thematic qualities with her debut.
“Somehow in the course of my research for The Sentimentalists, I came across an account of how World War I veterans were received back home after serving in the war,” says Skibsrud. “I was struck by the similarities between these two very different periods in history and I wanted to explore some of these continuities across time.”
A rough-around-the-edges version of The Sentimentalists was submitted as Skibsrud’s MA thesis for the creative writing program in Concordia’s Department of English. “I had the option of presenting a creative work for my main project,” says Skibsrud.
She adds that the Concordia program was a perfect fit for her. “I knew I wanted to write and to live in Montreal,” says Skibsrud, who’s from Meadowville, N.S. “Luckily, the Concordia MA combines literary academic study with creative writing.”