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A vividly wrought memoir, Last Dance in Shediac is a collection of the author’s personal memories of her mother—celebrated Canadian artist Molly Lamb Bobak—and a tender meditation on life and death.

“I had always assumed that neither of my parents would end up in an old folks’ home. And yet here was Mum, ensconced in a world of pad-covered recliner chairs, legion singalongs, ball-tossing exercises done sitting down, plastic cups of juice, Jell-O, and fluorescent lights. “Mum, this really isn’t a home; it’s more like a hotel for old people,” I’d tell her, and that temporarily softened the blow for both of us.” —An excerpt from the book

Molly Lamb Bobak (1922–2014) was the first woman to travel overseas as an official Canadian war artist. She was also the daughter of famous Canadian artist Harold Mortimer-Lamb, whose contemporaries included Emily Carr, A.Y. Jackson, and Jack Shadbolt. In this homage to her artist mother, Anny Scoones rounds out her mother’s public profile by revealing personal stories.

Anny’s memories reveal the funny and touching details of her relationship with Molly, from the road trips they took together to the visits Molly would make to Victoria to visit Anny on Glamorgan Farm, and the lovely chaos that ensued when Anny’s five dogs would greet Molly in the car. Anny shares their little inside jokes and the memories they made together in a way that brings their connection—beyond mother–daughter bond to close friendship—to life for the reader.

As her mother ages and becomes increasingly frail, Anny spends more and more time in Fredericton. Their road trips grow shorter, and Anny’s reflections on how it feels to finally watch her mother go are tender, heartbreaking, and memorable.

In her best-selling first book, Home: Tales of a Heritage Farm (2005), Anny Scoones introduced readers to historic Glamorgan Farm. In Home and Away, Anny presents more stories about the joys and sorrows, excitements and mishaps and also takes readers farther afield, sharing with them her travels to other parts of Canada, to New York and to such places as Malaysia and Belarus. Her travel tales offer not only her keen observations on what she sees and experiences while away, but also her perspective from afar on the importance of having a place to return to that truly is home.

Anny has owned Glamorgan Farm since 2000. Located in North Saanich, B.C., it's one of the original farms and homesteads on Vancouver Island, established in 1870 by Richard John. She is restoring the historic structures and raising heritage breeds of livestock. The front meadows are gardened by an herb gardener and a group of mentally challenged adults who grow organic, heirloom varieties of flowers and produce.

Anny writes candidly and colourfully about real things, from visits with her family-she is the daughter of internationally acclaimed artists Molly Lamb Bobak and Bruno Bobak-to simple pleasures like arranging bowls of pears and hearing the owls in the woods at dusk. She writes about making bonfires, sitting with a dying horse, playing with a 700-pound sow and visiting the SPCA. Some of her tales are told with humour, some in sadness, but all tell the truth about living, observing and creating, whether at home or away.

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