Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Read Your Way Around Nova Scotia - Summer 2011 edition

Join us once again for a fictional tour around Nova Scotia.

Diligent River is found in Cumberland County so named for the hard work and diligence of one Lieutenant Taylor. Diligent River is also home to Charlene Durant in Bruce Graham's Diligent River Daughter. Losing her father to the war and her mother to illness, Charlene finds herself alone and dependent upon her own survival skills. In Boston she finds newspaper work and interesting friends. Charlene lives through the major and often troubling events of the early twentieth century as she discovers her own strength and identity.

Set in Halifax, The Social Worker by Michael Ungar, features Joey who has a long history with the social welfare system. A delinquent at heart, Joey focuses his powers for good rather than evil and works beyond the law and beyond the rules as a social worker himself. Readers comment again and again that Ungar (a professor of social work) has a intimate understanding of how the system works.

The Explosion will forever be a pivotal point in Halifax's history. Sylvia Tyson's family saga Joyner's Dream follows multiple generations of a family from England in the late 1700's to Halifax at the time of the Explosion to present day Toronto. The generations of this family are connected by music, secrets and larceny. The Globe and Mail wrote "What makes her writing soar over so many contemporaries is her ear, as she recreates the diction of men and women of varying social circumstances in diverse times and places. Her characters may be eccentric but they are more than a hodgepodge of Masterpiece Theatre drawing-room tics and bedroom tricks: They speak to us as individuals with small, fragmented stories to tell and, ultimately, as a chorus interweaving universal themes orchestrated by a master harmonizer as time past is made time present in thoroughly satisfactory ways."

One Crow Sorrow by Vernon Oickle takes us to Liverpool where secrets and unhappiness lie dormant beneath of facade of small town simplicity. The arrival of Maggie Collins and flocks of black crows alert the residents that something sinister is about to be revealed. A Gothic tale with a supernatural feel.

Indefensible by Pamela Callow continues lawyer Kate Lange's adventures in Halifax. Her boss, a quick tempered high profile lawyer, publicly quarrels with his wife and is charged with her murder after she falls to her death. Lange faces a family terrified and torn apart, the case of a lifetime and killer who is biding his time.

Back to the south shore and Lunenburg and back in time to the Protestant settlers who founded the town we have A Lady of Lunenburg: Nova Scotia 1752: the cauldron that shaped a nation and tempered a woman's spirit by Laurel Pardy. Largely German, these so-called "Foreign Protestants" were actively recruited to emigrate to Nova Scotia as a balance to the largely French Roman Catholic population. A Lady of Lunenburg Nova Scotia tells the story of Anna Elisabeth and her family as they courageously forge their lives in this frontier community.

Nova Scotia's Gordon M. Haliburton spent time teaching in Sierra Leone in the 1950's. In Hannibal's Hoops: a slave boy's quest for freedom in a time of revolution young Hannibal escapes slavery in South Carolina and makes his way to unsettled Nova Scotia during the Loyalist migration.

Her Mother's Daughter by Lesley Crewe is a story of coming home. Sisters Bay and Tansy grew up in Louisbourg. Bay, a young widow with a daughter, remained home with her mother, while Tansy left Nova Scotia to find fame and fortune. Fame and fortune do not necessarily equal happiness and lonely Tansy returns home. Secrets have a way of revealing themselves and Tansy is desperate to conceal why she left so many years ago.

Though born and raised in Glace Bay, Ian finds himself unburdening his soul to a nun turned lounge singer in Quebec City in Sheldon Currie's Two More Solitudes. "Taking as his inspiration two seminal works, Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes and Dante’s Inferno, Currie finds new meaning in MacLennan’s dichotomy and profane humour in Dante’s divine comedy as he tells the story of one man’s search for redemption. Ian’s downward spiral is an unconventional one: he tells his sad and woeful tale to a nun-turned-torch singer in a dingy club, and he is sidetracked by baseball games and temporary amnesia. As Ian loves and leaves a succession of women and career paths, we come to understand him and his changing world, and root for him to find a star to guide him home. " publisher

A second hand book store seems to be the perfect setting for an eccentric woman who was raised by the lighthouse keeper of Halifax's Devils Island. Raising Orion by Lesley Choyce features Molly and her customers who are as unique as she is. Molly was necessarily solitary as a child and developed a oneness with nature which afforded her certain mystical qualities which included resuscitating seeming dead animals. She and her bookstore patrons they form a supportive community which must come to Molly's aid when she finds herself embroiled with a young cancer patient.

What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman is the story of Wyatt Hillyer's confession to his estranged daughter. He tells the story of his parents' scandal and suicide in World War II Halifax, his teenage years in Middle Economy and why he abandoned his wife and daughter. Booklist says "Norman's piquant insights into life's wildness, human eccentricity, and love's maddening persistence are matched by rhapsodic and profound descriptions of everything from perfectly baked scones to pelting rain and the devouring sea, while anguish is tempered with humor, thanks to rapid-fire banter and marvelously spiky characters."

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