"We are great preservers of both history and legend in Newfoundland and Labrador" = truer words ne'er spoken, and we're thrilled to have one such fantastic preservation for today's Forget-Me-Not. The historical novel A Sudden Sun by Trudy Morgan-Cole (Breakwater Books) follows a mother and daughter in Newfoundland first immediately after 1892's Great Fire, then at the height of the Suffragette cause. Breakwater Editor James Langer shows us how Morgan-Cole's writing brings history down to the micro level of the people it deeply, irrevocably effects.
To celebrate Canada150, we’re turning the page on the most celebrated historical moments and highlighting the footnotes for a change. Take a trip down literary lane with us as we share books on aspects of Canadian history and notable people that don’t always get due attention.
Breakwater Books Editor James Langer shared the following about Trudy Morgan-Cole's A Sudden Sun:
ALU: What brought you to publish A Sudden Sun?
JL: Well, Trudy Morgan-Cole is one of our favourite authors. Breakwater has already published two of her books to great acclaim. So whenever we get a manuscript from Trudy, we have high expectations. This one was no different. The story begins with The Great Fire of 1892, in St. John’s, and we’re immediately swept into the lives of characters that must rebuild in the wake of a devastating communal tragedy. And as the city begins to rise again, there are great social changes occurring across the island. What’s really quite amazing about the book is the expanse of the canvas, the sheer magnitude of the cultural changes and the historical distance. But the history and social issues are not overbearing, they don’t weigh the narrative down, because Trudy focuses on characters and moves so gracefully through their lives. We get so caught up in the stories of Grace and her mother, Lily, that the history becomes a living place, a context which impacts characters we learn to care about. And really that’s Trudy’s accomplishment here. For all the novel’s historical value and the incredible amount of research it makes public, when you get right down to it, this is a story about two people learning to accept and love one another during a time of great change. Simply put, it’s just a great read.
ALU: What impact do you think this work has on Canadian culture/history?
JL: We are great preservers of both history and legend in Newfoundland and Labrador. We’re proud of our culture, the things that make it unique and its historical foundations. But the history of the women’s movement in the province has not found its rightful, permanent place in our imaginations. Maybe that’s because people are unaware of the history. Maybe that’s because it can’t be located in one particular place: a popular heritage building, tourist location, or national historic park. Maybe it’s because there’s no long weekend set aside to remember. Maybe people just take their given rights — rights born of struggle — for granted. We shouldn’t pretend the struggle is over. There are many people in the province who continue to work diligently to address the real issues and barriers women still face every day, people seeking change. Maybe if we realized how far we had to come, we would recognize how far we have to go. Perhaps we need to work harder to make that history more present, through education and public recognition. In the meantime, if you’re not sure where to start, we have A Sudden Sun.
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Many thanks to James at Breakwater for answering our "history test" on A Sudden Sun. Remember, if you buy A Sudden Sun, you get a free 2017 wall calendar.
And, be sure to follow along with the rest of our #ALUneverforget picks on the
Instagram as we book-hop through the centuries, and check out our
history timeline showcasing still more books that tell Canadian history like it is, or should we say, was.
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