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Reading & Lunch in the Heritage Garden on Tower Hill with Cecily Ross and Kate Hilton

Reading & Lunch in the Heritage Garden on Tower Hill

Next week, on Tuesday 25 July, at 12:30, Cecily Ross and Kate Hilton will share their most recent novels with those who choose to join them at the Museum on Tower Hill. Bring a blanket or folding lawn chair, and your lunch if you wish, and meet at the Tower Hill Heritage Garden (or inside if the weather is inclement). Take time out from your busy day of hunting and gathering in Parry Sound and enjoy the words of two exceptional Canadian authors.

Cecily Ross is the author, most recently of, The Lost Dairies of Susanna Moodie, published to much acclaim this spring. Susanna Moodie and her sister Catherine Parr Trail are familiar names to anyone interested in the history of early English immigration to Ontario. They were raised in gentile society in England and came to Canada as young brides thinking they would have a much better life here than there.

If you’ve read the sisters own books, or the excellent Sisters in the Wilderness by Charlotte Grey, you will know what their lives were like. So, I was excited at the prospect of reading The Lost Dairies of Susanna Moodie by Cecily Ross, but did wonder a little about what she could bring to this story as it has already been so well documented. But, with historical fiction it is often possible to present another interesting perspective from the same basic facts. And, Cecily Ross succeeds at portraying hese young women as very real people who came to this country with such expectations and had no choice but to find a way to survive when they found it a much different place then they had imagined.

Susanna and her husband “Moodie” seem to have been passionately in love, which is a good thing since it ensured that the marriage lasted under extremely trying circumstances. Moodie may have been a lovely man and great fun but he was not very sensible. He was completely unsuccessful at managing what small income he had. Catherine Parr Trail did not do too much better in her choice of a husband, but both sisters had become writers before their marriages and continued to write afterwards providing some little income of their own.

What is abundantly clear is the sense of helplessness these women experienced. They had no standing of their own – they were truly chattels of their husbands. They were often pregnant – not always happily – and they were often alone looking after children and homestead, with husbands waltzing to and from war or work away – leaving them pregnant once again.   

Just Like Family by Kate Hilton takes place in a much more modern time, and is the story of a much more modern woman. Her character, Avery Graham, has three husbands – yes, three. The first and former a young mistake. The second, her “work husband” the mayor, whom she loves and trusts. And, Matt, her lover for fourteen years, who now wants marriage and children. But, what does Avery want? As she juggles the demands of these men she must figure out what comes next. Is it the brilliant career, or the more difficult leap into the world of marriage and motherhood? Avery needs to come to terms with the losses of the past before she can make a decision that will move her forward. Memories of summers spent at the family cottage will help her figure out the true meaning of family and friendship as she overcomes her deepest fears, in this very funny and profound novel.



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