The Fiddler Is a Good Woman


A biography that doesn’t quite exist, about a violinist who can’t be found, as told by people who don’t agree on much.

Novelist Geoff Berner has been tasked with writing a biography of DD, a mysterious, charismatic, chimerical musician who has, it seems, dropped off the face of the earth. In the course of his search for DD, Berner interviews her friends, ex-bandmates, ex-lovers, and others. They paint such variable portraits of her that each successive attempt to describe her casts doubt on the previous testimony. As his project is taken over by the lively, infuriating, entertaining tales, a wounded, gifted, and complex DD starts to emerge from all the eyewitness accounts and swear-to-God true stories.

Who is DD? Where did she go? And why didn’t that book get written? Travel through a world of knockabout musicians and chancers, on the trail of an inimitable artist who truly lives in the moment, for better or worse.


A heartfelt, imaginary oral history about the beauty and power of music and art. Sharp with wit and alive with wonder, full of noise and fun. The only criticism I can offer is that it left me wanting another one.

Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize

Berner’s unlikely, implausible sequel to Festival Man is somehow real — insofar as it appears to exist. It’s right here in front of you after all: full of desperate truth-tellers, truth-seekers in all their ragged glory, and the honest lies of oracles who’ve been banished to the edges of life. Whether or not it is true, however, is a whole other thing entirely. All I know for certain is The Fiddler is a Good Woman, and this is a wonderful book.

Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Down To This

Geoff Berner’s marvellous polyphonic new novel is an estrogen-and-booze-fueled romp — Hard Core Logo with chicks. The Fiddler is a Good Woman is an ode to a Canadian heroine like no other: the legendary DD, gateway lesbian and a semi-mythical creature, like a mermaid with fangs — a tiny foul-mouthed siren on a fiddle who leaves a wreckage of the broken-hearted in her wake.

Zsuzsi Gartner, author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives

Berner is a wizard of words and this book is his magical kingdom!

Book Escapade

very well written … made me laugh out loud

Nonstop Reader

Chronicles a subculture that’s generally examined only fleetingly, in impermanent media such as radio shows and weekly magazines.

Georgia Straight

The language blends the profane and poetic … Melodic and chaotic, with a wide range of voices, The Fiddler is a Good Woman creates an artist of complex character, unapologetically flawed and almost too real to be fictional.

Foreword Reviews

This freewheeling novel illuminates the colorful and not-very-glamorous world of the touring folk musician. Crisscrossing the considerable breadth of Canada, with a few international stops, this should appeal to fans of music and itinerant musicians everywhere.

IndiePicks Magazine

Eccentric and imaginative, blurring the lines between novel, memoir, biography, and transcription.

Quill & Quire

Berner’s writing is really spectacular in a way that will create empathy and connections with characters that you can’t characterize as either idols or villains.

Pop Queer-ies podcast

While the story is fiction, the book makes us believe it to be a true story because of Berner’s fine writing techniques.

Reviews by Amos Lassen

The insights into the Canadian music scene are intriguing … A quirky read focusing on quirky characters.

Schatje’s Shelves

hilariously shreds the ever-fragile ego that is the Canadian music scene

The Westender

A deftly crafted novel that travels through a world of knockabout musicians and chancers, on the trail of an inimitable artist who truly lives in the moment, for better or worse.

Midwest Book Review

Fun and eminently readable.

Toronto Star

Berner’s sabre-sharp humour cuts through the novel and is shocking and wry, political and gut-busting.

Winnipeg Free Press

About the Author

Geoff Berner

Posted by Dundurn Guest on October 30, 2014
Geoff Berner photo

Geoff Berner

Geoff Berner is the author of Festival Man and the graphic novel We Are Going To Bremen To Be Musicians. A singer-songwriter and accordion player, he has released six albums and toured in seventeen countries. He lives in Vancouver.