25th Trillium Award

Prince Edward County: The Recommended Reads

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Morrisson Point, Prince Edward County (photo credit: Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism & Commerce)

By Erin Knight and Megan Philipp

Ah, Prince Edward County in the springtime. Shoots of the first flowers poking through the humus, a freshly poured glass of local pinot within reach and an array of books by the County's talented authors spread across the table. What's your pleasure? One of Janet Lunn's classic historical YA novels? A memoir by the unrivalled Farley Mowat? A collection of Al Purdy poems? How about a mystery novel by one the new generation of County authors, or cutting-edge documentary? Our list of Recommended Reads for Prince Edward County will have something for everyone. Wine pairings available upon request.

With thanks to the Prince Edward County Chamber of Tourism & Commerce for permission to publish this photo.

The Legends of Lake on the Mountain (Fireside Publishing House), by Roderick Benns

The Legends of Lake on the Mountain (Fireside Publishing House), Book Two of the Leaders & Legacies series and written by Fireside Publishing House?s founder, Roderick Benns, tells the story of a young John A. Macdonald and a very different story than anything we?ve heard about this Prime Minister of Canada. After John is given a treasure map by an old man, the town of Stone Mills discovers a lake serpent in Prince Edward County?s Lake on the Mountain. In order to protect his family, John must find out what dwells in the lake. Legends of Lake on the Mountain is sure to make John A. Macdonald much more interesting to a young audience.

The Fireman's Child, by Roz Bound

The moment when we realize our parents are real, imperfect people marks a turning point in the journey from childhood to adulthood. The Fireman's Child, Roz Bound's deeply felt collection of poetry and prose, is a book about the discovery of a father's imperfections and the difficult work towards forgiveness and compassion. The reader will follow the honest and insightful voice of the poet through shocking discoveries and insights into the development of a complicated young man — somehow trusting that the wisdom gathered along the way will make the emotional peaks and valleys entirely worthwhile.

Click here to read Open Book's Poet's in Profile interview with Roz Bound.

Twelve Trees (Dundurn Press), by J.D. Carpenter

Twelve Trees (Dundurn Press), the fourth novel in Prince Edward County author J.D. Carpenter?s successful Campbell Young series, tells the story of ex-racetrack journalist Priam Harvey, who marks the first anniversary of being fired from his job and his breakup with his girlfriend, Barbara, by drinking and gambling. When events conspire, Harvey begins a journey to come to terms with himself. This is an exciting story where Priam Harvey, a character who has previously been on the sidelines in Carpenter?s first novel, The Devil in Me (McClelland & Stewart), and who played a major role in Bright?s Kill (Dundurn Press), takes centre stage as the main character.

Gold Mountain (Dundurn Press), by Vicki Delany

Set in 1897, Gold Mountain (Dundurn Press), part of Picton author Vicki Delany?s Klondike Mystery series, tells the story of Fiona MacGillivray and her 11-year-old son, Angus. When Fiona hears about gold discovered in the Klondike, she heads on a path to Skagway, Alaska where she hopes to open a theatre. Instead of Skagway, however, she decides to go to Dawson City, and on her journey she is pursued by Sheridan, a man who was given a map pointing north to Gold Mountain by a dying man. Hoping to become the king of Gold Mountain, which is filled with gold and hot springs, and to marry Fiona, who doesn?t want any part of it, he refuses to take no for an answer. Fiona has to rely on Corporal Sterling of the North-West Mounted Police, Angus and the townspeople to prevent him from succeeding.

Click here to read Open Book's On Writing interview with Vicki Delany.

Sowing Poison (Dundurn Press ), by Janet Kellough

Taking readers to the lakeside village of Wellington, Prince Edward County?s Janet Kellough tells the tale of the disappearance of a man. When Nathan Elliott returns to Wellington, to be at his dying father?s side after many years of absence, he goes missing only a few days later. Thaddeus Lewis, a Methodist circuit rider, eventually begins to search for the truth behind Nathan Elliott?s disappearance in this novel set in 1884 Upper Canada. Filled with religious conflict and political dissension, Sowing Poison (Dundurn Press) brings to life the time period.

Click here to read Janet Kellough's feature article, "How I Discovered Prince Edward County Literature."

The Root Cellar (Random House of Canada), by Janet Lunn

Beloved children's author Janet Lunn penned her classic young adult historical novel The Root Cellar (Random House of Canada) after moving from Toronto to a farmhouse in Prince Edward County. Many Canadian women will remember identifying with Rose Larkin, a girl who is thrown into a new life with unfamiliar relatives and the spectre of a ghost lurking in the shadows. Rose tries to escape her strange surroundings by sneaking into the farm's root cellar — and here she slips into a time period even more chaotic than the one she knows: the Civil War of the 1860s. If you read this novel again and again as a child, this is the perfect year to pick it up again.

No Angel (Pedlar Press), by Annie McLurg

No Angel (Pedlar Press), visual artist Annie McLurg's first book, was inspired by the author's own experience moving to Prince Edward County and buying "a wreck of a house." The story follows the trials of a woman with little money and no carpentry skills as she quickly burns through her limited savings after purchasing a run-down century home and finds herself in a dismantled house surrounded by debris. Although it looks as though she has lost everything, the real story (and the real tension) begins when a well-meaning neighbour steps in to her life to lend his help. No Angel will be published on May 15, 2013.

Picturesque Prince Edward County (Nabu Press), by Helen M. Merril

A reproduction of a book published before 1923, Napanee-born author and eventual Picton resident Helen M. Merrill?s Picturesque Prince Edward County (Nabu Press) has been put back in print because of its cultural importance. Helen, who was a journalist and writer of poetry, and the daughter of a judge and his wife, wrote the book to increase summer tourism to Prince Edward County. She was clearly ahead of her time, as the County is now one of Ontario's prime destinations.

And No Birds Sang (Douglas & McIntyre), by Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat, one of Canada's most respected authors, was born in Belleville in 1921. His searing 1971 memoir, And No Birds Sang, was republished last year with Douglas & McIntyre. Mowat's harrowing experiences fighting against special German forces in the mountains of Sicily during World War II forever changed him, and his account of these days, as well as his arguments (or pleas) for peace, makes a significant contribution to Canada's military history.

Poems for All the Annettes (House of Anansi Press) by Al Purdy, with an Introduction by Steven Heighton.

This new edition of Al Purdy's 1962 collection, Poems for All the Annettes (House of Anansi Press), is published with an illuminating introduction by Kingston writer Steven Heighton, who knew the Purdys personally. Residents and visitors of Prince Edward County will recognize many of the locations that inspired the astounding but down-to-earth poetry of Al Purdy, including such poems as "At Roblin Lake" and "At the Quinte Hotel." Poems for All the Annettes is a book that's become dog-eared in the pockets of aspiring poets young and old for decades, as this essential collection has already proven itself a classic of Canadian literature.

Click here to visit Open Book's Literary Landmark for the Al Purdy A-Frame.

Our Way to Fight (Between the Lines Books), by Michael Riordon

In Our Way to Fight (Between the Lines Books), journalist and documentary artist Michael Riordon plunges into the dangerous territory of Israel-Palestine and gives a voice to the non-violent peace activists and grassroots organizers who risk their lives daily to confront this conflict. He spent four years researching and interviewing the people whose lived experience is very different from the official versions reported in our newspapers. Our Way to Fight is eye-opening, sobering and inspiring.

Click here to read Open Book's On Writing interview with Michael Riordon.

The Lazier Murder (U of T Press), by Robert J. Sharpe

In The Lazier Murder (U of T Press), Robert J. Sharpe takes a look at the trial and sentencing to death of two County men, resulting from the 1883 murder of Peter Lazier, who was shot in the heart during a robbery at a farmhouse in Prince Edward County. While three men, all arrested for the murder, pleaded their innocence, two of them — Joseph Thomset and David Lowder — were still found guilty and sentenced to death by a group of local citizens. Piecing together the case using archival and contemporary newspaper accounts, this book explores the community?s response to the crime, the miscarriage of justice and an insightful look at criminal justice and how it changed during the 19th century.

Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online from the publisher, at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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