Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of two novels, four non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. She describes herself as a lapsed Dickensian and as someone who has had a different career every decade. Her work life began with a Ph.D. dissertation about Dickens and Christmas, but she quickly left the academic world for successive careers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer; at the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail as the arts and books editor; and most recently as a full-time writer.
Her first book, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario, won the Ontario Historical Society’s award for best regional history. Her second book, The Mourner’s Dance: What We Do When People Die, was a finalist for two important prizes. Her third book, The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, is a spirited chronicle of the West’s ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body. It has been published in a dozen countries and six languages. Recommended for 9- to 12-year-olds, All the Dirt: A History of Getting Clean was inspired by The Dirt on Clean and has been described approvingly as “a real stinker of a book.” It was a finalist for several readers’ choice awards and won two prizes.
Sofie & Cecilia, the story of two Swedish women who find their own way through the constraints of marriage and a traditional society, is Katherine’s first novel. It was a popular and critical success.
And now comes Her Turn, to be published in the summer of 2021 in Canada and the U.S. Liz, a divorced newspaper editor, finds her tidy life overturned when the woman now married to Liz’s ex-husband submits a personal essay to the column Liz edits. Wife #2 has no idea that she is sending her essay to Wife #1, and Liz decides to keep that a secret, with surprising results. Elizabeth Renzetti writes of it, “It is infused with the joyful spirit of Nora Ephron and lit with a charm all its own.”