Sensational Victoria: Bright Lights, Red Lights, Murders, Ghosts & Gardens
Sensational Victoria is a book about the city’s famous and infamous, the ordinary and the extraordinary, filtered through the houses in which they lived.
David Foster and his six sisters grew up in a modest house in Saanich built by their father. Spoony Sundher raised his family on Bellevue Road before going on to open the Hollywood Wax Museum. Alice Munro wrote two of her best-selling books from her Rockland house, and Susan Musgrave’s eccentric tree house has a 190-foot Douglas fir growing out of the living room.
Emily Carr figures prominently in the book. That wasn’t intentional, she just kept getting in my head, and I was intrigued by her secret Oak Bay cabin. It’s Emily who takes readers through the James Bay of 1913. There’s a chapter on madams and their brothels; murders that span a century, and the homes of artists and writers, including Pat Martin Bates, Carole Sabiston, Myfanwy Pavelic and Bruce Hutchison.
Published by Anvil Press, 2012
“This has already been a stellar year for books about local history…Sensational Victoria, is one of the year’s best,” says Dave Obee, editor-in-chief of the Times Colonist. “It really doesn’t matter what level of knowledge the reader has; there is something here for everyone.”
“Inside its covers you’ll find that Eve’s relaxed writing style blends her copious research from informative interviews of the home owners,” writes John Atkin on spacing.ca. “Some of Victoria’s big names are there such as the Carr family, the Hatleys and Dunsmuirs, but what I liked were the less glamorous properties, seemingly ordinary homes which have great stories to tell.”
“Every house has a story. In Victoria, some of those stories just happen to include homicides, prostitutes, and ghosts. And here you thought this city was all garden tours and whale watching,” says Seattle Metropolitan Magazine. “Forget the postcard-perfect Victoria you think you know; Sensational Victoria explores the capital city’s old structures and the not-so-saintly spirits that haunt them.”
“Sensational Victoria is an eclectic compendium of truly captivating stories,” writes John Adams in BC Studies. “While a few are sensational because they are about murders and ghosts, most of them are sensational because they excite our senses of sight and sound and allude to our sense of smell. The work of selected artists, writers, poets, and gardeners comes to life through Lazarus’s carefully written prose, brief quotations, and excellent photographs.”
“The book features fascinating photographs, both archival and contemporary, and an authoritative yet entertaining tone,” says British Columbia Magazine. “The book profiles people, but also the places they inhabited, and will likely appeal to anyone who appreciates architecture and design.”
Eve’s on CBC Almanac
What readers are saying
“I just finished reading your book last night and loved it. Found it to be a great combination of gossip and history and little known family dramas and connections,” says Joyce Thierry Llewellyn, screenwriter, story editor.
“I find that many books showing off or giving a brief history of cities have a lot of fluffy writing with little content below the surface of the simple captions. Yours have genuinely interesting content with the depth to make them engaging reads as well as offering solid history,” says Gene Baade, Renton, Washington. “I want to praise your research, labor, passion, and love for your subjects, and as my wife says, the way you write.”
“A great book Eve! Easy to read and really interesting pictures, you should be proud!” says Louise McLay.