Poor Farm by Ronan O’Driscoll

“I took to walking with my son Martin. He is autistic and needs a lot of outside activity. On one of our outings, we came upon a grove of wooden crosses, the only remains of a 19th-century Nova Scotia poor farm for the “harmlessly insane”. This was the spark that turned into Poor Farm. My second novel is an attempt to imagine what life would be like for somebody like Martin, at that time.” (Excerpt from an Irish Times article by Ronan O’Driscoll)

Inspiration for a novel can happen at the unlikeliest of times in the most random places. Similar to the finding of mass graves near Residential schools, the so-called “Poor Farms” and “Poor Houses” have burial sites of their former residents (or inmates). Those relegated to such places were deemed “harmlessly insane”, “paupers” as well as those escaping a past life with nowhere else to go. The author wonders how his son would have been treated on such a farm, which led him to write this historical novel.

A #ReadAtlantic book!

Poor Farm is the story of several people from the strata of society as it existed in Halifax in the late 1800s. There are those on the city council who wish to put the city’s indigent to work on farms outside of the city. Then there are those who are placed in such institutions because the family cannot care for them, or they have run away from an abusive home. Then there are those tasked with running the farm who are given inadequate funds by the city and must continually deal with all sorts of residents with special needs. One can feel the exasperation of the farm’s caretakers.

Poor Farm was a gratifying read, despite the many trials, abuses, and government meddling that takes place. As historical fiction, it is quite good, and if there is anything negative to say about Poor Farm is that it suffers from a few too many characters and the subsequent changing of scenes, which works well in a visual medium, but in a printed work, can make some characters unclear to the reader, if not a little confusing at times. However, this is a book that needed to be written, and Nova Scotia’s Moose House Publications has performed a great service by publishing it.

See also  Three for Trinity by Kevin Major

Originally from the West of Ireland, Ronan O’Driscoll lived in Chicago, Dublin and Japan before settling in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia with his wife and children. A software developer and educator, he has always enjoyed writing. His first novel, Chief O’Neill, pays homage to his love of history and traditional Irish music.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Moose House Publications (April 1 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1777293782
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1777293789

*The Miramichi Reader encourages you to shop independent! However, shopping at a bookstore is not always possible, so we are supplying an Amazon.ca link. Please note if you choose to purchase this book (or Kindle version) through Amazon using the link below we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you cannot see the Amazon ad below (if you are using an ad blocker, for instance) here is the link: https://amzn.to/3wywF3K Thanks! 


Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Owner/Editor-in-Chief at -- Website

James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife and their tabby cat.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x