Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale by Ann Shortell

A fine example of Canadian historical fiction, Ann Shortell’s Celtic Knot: A Clara Swift Tale (2018, Friesen Press) is constructed around the actual assassination of D’Arcy McGee, one of the fathers of confederation, on April 7th, 1868 as he was returning from Parliament to Mrs. Trotter’s boarding house. The assailant was never seen, but Patrick J. Whelan (“Jimmy”) was later arrested, convicted and hanged as the culprit.… Continue reading

Being Mary Ro by Ida Linehan Young

might be forgiven if, after seeing the book’s cover, they think Being Mary Ro (2018, Flanker Press) is another stereotypical Victorian-era romance novel. In some ways it is, but Being Mary Ro is more historical fiction than it is romance, similar to Genevieve Graham’s Promises to Keep. Like that book, it is based on a historical incident and broadened to include fictional characters and other historical references.… Continue reading

First Quarter Best Reads of 2018: Fiction

it is almost May and the Spring 2018 titles are upon us! While I have been able to review some of them, thanks to advance reading copies (ARCs) from the publishers, I thought I would highlight some of the best reads from the last few months.The following titles are in no particular order.

Short Fiction

Historical Fiction

Some Observations

The first thing you might notice, and I have no explanation for this, is that there are more titles here from female writers vs.… Continue reading

Piau: Journey to the Promised Land by Bruce Murray

is encouraging to see more books (either fictional or non-fictional) being written about the Acadians and their lives and way of life before and after 1755. That was the year of “Le Grand Dérangement” when they were the victims of cultural genocide by the occupying British command and put on ships to be dispersed around the globe, never to return to their beloved Acadia. Some stayed, only to be enslaved, forced to work the land they once farmed as their own, but now for British landowners.… Continue reading

A Splendid Boy by Melanie Martin

Since it has been one hundred years since the Battle of the Somme in WWI, there have been numerous books produced, both fiction and non-fiction that deal with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and its heavy involvement in the Great War. A Splendid Boy (2016, Flanker Press) by Melanie Martin is a fine example of the type of historical fiction Flanker Press produces.

Synopsis

A Splendid War is about an adolescent love between a merchant’s daughter (Emma Tavenor) and a poor fisherman’s son (Daniel Beresford) that is torn apart by not only Emma’s father’s disapproval (with which he punishes Daniel’s father who is heavily in debt to him) but by the war, which Daniel uses as an excuse to make a clean break from Emma, for he has promised Mr.… Continue reading

Dancing in a Jar by Adele Poynter

Life in the small Newfoundland village of St. Lawrence was not easy in the early 1930’s. The town was still recovering from the tsunami that hit there in 1929. The disaster killed 28 people and left hundreds more homeless or destitute. It was the most destructive earthquake-related event in Newfoundland and Labrador’s history and, making matters worse, occurred at the beginning of a worldwide depression. It was into this environment that Donald Poynter and his new bride Urla Crammond entered upon leaving the U.S.… Continue reading