by Frances Peck

Book Cover: The Broken Places
ISBN: 9781774390467
ISBN: 9781774390450

Vancouver. A day like any other. Kyle, a successful cosmetic surgeon, is punishing himself with a sprint up a mountain. Charlotte, wife of a tech tycoon, is combing the farm belt for local cheese and a sense of purpose. Back in the city their families go about their business: landscaping, negotiating deals, skipping school. It’s a day like any other—until suddenly it’s not.

When the earthquake hits, the city erupts in chaos and fear. Kyle’s and Charlotte’s families, along with two passersby, are thrown together in an oceanfront mansion. The catastrophe and conflicts that beset these wildly different people expose the fault lines beneath their relationships, as they question everything in an effort to survive and reunite with their loved ones stranded outside the city.

Frances Peck’s debut novel recalls the humanism of Ann Patchett while interrogating the excesses of the nouveau riche like Emily St. John Mandel and Douglas Coupland.

Publisher: NeWest Press

The soft air and fair sea that morning beckoned fishermen off the docks. Floatplanes prepared to fly; the ferries would run on time. Soccer games would not be cancelled today, so mothers and the occasional father packed extra apples and granola bars and texted intricate pick-up arrangements. Young lovers stirred on mattresses that had hours earlier been their playground; brushed an elbow or a knee not their own; smiled, scratched, fell more deeply asleep. Investment brokers downed espressos in stainless steel kitchens, clacked the tumblers of the solid-wood doors of Coal Harbour condos, young stallions let loose into the dusky dawn, taking each block at a canter, the unsaddled freedom of no overcoat foretelling a day of profit. Dogs stood in quivering hope at front doors, back doors, apartment doors, side doors, patio doors, basement suite doors for the thrilling click of the leash. The second batch of baguettes browned; prep cooks chopped and diced and sliced and minced.


Babies crooned and sucked their fingers; unloved women entered dull kitchens; baristas beamed at their regulars and sometimes meant it. The sick and stinking residents of the Downtown Eastside rustled and stirred, early morning sharp in their noses like nature’s smelling salts, then backed farther into the alcoves of mighty banks and once-fine hotels, dreaming of the high that would never end.

The sea held its breath, flat and contained as a saltwater bath.

The sky held its breath, pierced only by the sharp clear song of a spring bird or two.

The earth held its breath, for the moment.

Reviews:Brian Francis, author of Fruit and Missed Connections wrote:

“In her debut novel, Frances Peck masterfully brings together a cast of complex characters, each broken in their own way, and weaves a compelling story set against the backdrop of a catastrophic earthquake. It beautifully reminded me that none of us are ever on solid ground, especially when it comes to our human, and fragmented, hearts.”

John Vigna, author of No Man’s Land wrote:

“Frances Peck’s wonderfully sophisticated and razor-sharp novel takes dead aim at Vancouver’s tenuous decadent dreams against an ensemble of mesmerizing characters. The Broken Places casts an unwavering eye on a city of glass and its inhabitants who must respond to a savagely cruel event that shatters some families while bringing others closer together. It’s Balzacian in its ambition and wit, raising ineluctable questions about family and wealth, love and lust, resignation and resilience, and offers hard-earned truths about the death of dreams and how we’ll fight fiercely to keep them intact regardless of the cost. A well-crafted, affecting debut.”

Kelly S. Thompson, national bestselling author of Girls Need Not Apply wrote:

“With masterful use of craft, Peck takes readers on a journey into how devastation draws us together while pulling us apart. With moving imagery and haunting insight into response to trauma, The Broken Places highlights the flawed nature of humanity and our ability to move forward and find community after complicated, tragic loss. Above all, Peck gives nuanced, stunning characters who show readers what it means to give ourselves up to our flaws and find love and beauty in the process.”

About the Author

Frances Peck wrote fiction and poetry until the realities of adulthood and rent steered her toward a career as a ghostwriter, editor and instructor. During that time, she published Peck’s English Pointers, co-authored the HyperGrammar website, and was an occasional essayist and blogger. Now she's rediscovering the magic of making things up. Her debut novel, The Broken Places, was a Globe and Mail best book of 2022 and a finalist for the Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Her second novel, Uncontrolled Flight, came out in September 2023.