But when Gilbert Thomas, a brash medical doctor, comes to Scots Bay with promises of fast, painless childbirth, some of the women begin to question Miss Babineau's methods—and after Miss Babineau's death, Dora is left to carry on alone. In the face of fierce opposition, she must summon all of her strength to protect the birthing traditions and wisdom that have been passed down to her.
Filled with details that are as compelling as they are surprising—childbirth in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion, the prescribing of vibratory treatments to cure hysteria and a mysterious elixir called Beaver Brew—Ami McKay has created an arresting and unforgettable portrait of the struggles that women faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.
The Book of Negroes (based on the novel Someone Knows My Name) will be BET’s first miniseries. The star-studded production includes lead actress Aunjanue Ellis (Ray, The Help), Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, A Few Good Men), Oscar and Emmy winner Louis Gossett Jr. (A Raisin in the Sun, Boardwalk Empire), and features Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue), Jane Alexander (The Cider House Rules), and Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line). Director and co-writer Clement Virgo is a feature film and television director (The Wire) who also serves as producer with executive producer Damon D’Oliveira (What We Have).
In this “transporting” (Entertainment Weekly) and “heart-stopping” (Washington Post) work, Aminata Diallo, one of the strongest women characters in contemporary fiction, is kidnapped from Africa as a child and sold as a slave in South Carolina. Fleeing to Canada after the Revolutionary War, she escapes to attempt a new life in freedom.
In a David and Goliath style battle to the finish, Rockbound by Frank Parker Day triumphed over Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and was declared the 2005 Canada Reads winner. In a series of debates that aired on the CBC in February, panelist Donna Morrissey, author of Kit’s Law and Downhill Chance, passionately championed this 1928 novel about life and nature on the small maritime island of Rockbound. The victory has brought this Atlantic Province favourite back into the limelight and is receiving nationwide attention, appearing on several bestseller lists across the country.
After its initial publication, Rockbound remained in out of print status until 1973, when the University of Toronto Press acquired the rights to publish as part of their “Literature of Canada Prose and Poetry in Reprint” series. It was reprinted with an introduction by Allan Bevan of Dalhousie University’s English Department.
In 1989, Gerald Hallowell, an editor with the University of Toronto Press, rescued Rockbound from the backlist of the UTP catalogue. The book was reprinted with an afterword by Gwendolyn Davies, Dean of Graduate Studies and Associate Vice-President (Research) at the University of New Brunswick.
UTP had been selling around 200 copies of the book per year, until Donna Morrissey selected it for the Canada Reads debates. Since then, UTP has sold over 35,000 copies and it has been reprinted three times!
The University of Toronto Press would like to thank Donna Morrissey for her superb defense of the book and all of the people at the CBC for their support and encouragement. A complete synopsis of the debates, as well as an interactive timeline for Rockbound and Frank Parker Day can be found on their website, www.cbc.ca/canadareads/index.html.
Copies of Rockbound can be found in abundance at the University of Toronto Bookstore, www.uoftbookstore.com, or at your local bookstore.
To the harsh domain of Rockbound -- governed by the sternly righteous and rapacious Uriah Jung --comes the youthful David Jung to claim his small share of the island. Filled with dreamy optimism and a love for the unspoken promises of the night sky, David tries to find his way in a narrow, unforgiving, and controlled world. His conflicts are both internal and external, locking him in an unceasing struggle for survival; sometimes the sea is his enemy, sometimes his own rude behavior, sometimes his best friend Gershom Born, sometimes his secret love for the island teacher Mary Dauphiny; but always, inevitably, his Jung relatives and their manifold ambitions for money and power.
The balance of life on Rockbound is precarious and thus fiercely guarded by all who inhabit its lonely domain, but just as a sudden change in the direction of the wind can lead to certain peril at sea, so too can the sudden change in the direction of a man's heart lead to a danger altogether unknown.
Enormously evocative of the power, terror, and dramatic beauty of the Atlantic sea, and unrelenting in its portrait of back-breaking labour, cunning bitterness, and family strife, Rockbound is a story of many passions-love, pride, greed, and yearning -- all formed and buffeted on a small island by an unyielding wind and the rocky landscape of the human spirit.
Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges—the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda.
Setting in motion the novel’s chain of life-altering passions and the wartime perfidy at its core is the arrival of the German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents—including a German U-boat’s sinking of the Nova Scotia–Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling—lend intense narrative power to Norman’s uncannily layered story.
Wyatt’s account of the astonishing—not least to him— events leading up to his fathering of a beloved daughter spills out twenty-one years later. It’s a confession that speaks profoundly of the mysteries of human character in wartime and is directed, with both despair and hope, to an audience of one.
An utterly stirring novel. This is Howard Norman at his celebrated best.
The Bird Artist is a 1994 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.