Published October 2019
Sci-fi, horror, historical fiction – no matter the genre, New Brunswick has inspired some heavyweight authors to set their works in our corner of the world. Here’s a look at just some of these page turners and how you can visit these settings for real.
The Testaments, Margaret Atwood
Winner of the 2019 Booker Prize, The Testaments picks up 15 years after the end of The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian sci-fi hit. So what’s the New Brunswick connection? Well, (spoiler alert!) the novel winds up with two of the main characters on Campobello Island. Check out why Atwood was inspired to choose this rugged setting by visiting Campobello Island for yourself.
The Shining, Stephen King
“Here’s Johnny!” Before Jack Nicholson made this an iconic horror movie catchphrase in the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name, The Shining was Stephen King’s third published novel and first hardback bestseller. While the Overlook Hotel featured in the book is fictional, King spent time in our own Algonquin Resort and we can’t help but notice some eerie similarities… Visit the resort and see if you can too.
Mercy Among the Children, David Adams Richards
Written by award-winning New Brunswick author David Adams Richards, Mercy Among the Children follows the family of Sydney Henderson, a man who makes a vow never to express himself in anger after a childhood incident, a vow that goes on to impact his life and the life of his family. When you take a trip to the book’s setting, the Miramichi Valley, you’ll experience the roaring waters and natural beauty Richards brings to life through his prose.
The Sea Captain’s Wife, Beth Powning
Seeing the ships leave from her bustling hometown on the Bay of Fundy, Azuba Galloway, the protagonist of Beth Powning’s The Sea Captain’s Wife, dreams of going to sea. Walk on the ocean floor then watch the world’s highest tides roll in and you’ll understand why Azuba yearns for home as she travels the world. You’ll also marvel at how deft Powning is at evoking the nuances of our natural world.
The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor, Sally Armstrong
Sally Armstrong reclaims the story of her great-great-great-grandmother, Charlotte Taylor, in this sweeping epic. After fleeing to Jamaica with her family’s black butler, who dies on arrival, Charlotte makes her way north, finds refuge with the Mi’gmaq and ultimately becomes a true New Brunswick pioneer known as “the Mother of Tabusintac.” Trace the adventures of this dauntless and unusual woman from Nepisiguit (Bathurst), to Miramichi and Tabusintac.
The Town that Drowned, Riel Nason
The Town that Drowned is the coming-of-age story of Ruby Carson, a teenager whose near-drowning at a skating party gives her a vision that seems to be coming true - that the town she grew up in is about to be under water. While the town in the novel is fictional, many of the places named in the book can be found along the Saint John River Valley, which is a great road trip.
La Sagouine, Antonine Maillet
A collection of monologues initially performed as a one-woman show, La Sagouine has inspired many theatre productions and television shows. A symbolic character of Acadian culture, La Sagouine tells of the simple life of a charwoman who was the daughter and wife of fishermen. For the full immersive experience, head to Pays de la Sagouine, a theatrical village on a small natural island in the middle of Bouctouche Bay where Maillet’s characters are brought to life.
The Revolving Doors (Les portes tournantes), Jacques Savoie
Céleste Beaumont, a jazz pianist, looks back on her life and decides to record it all in a diary that she sends to her estranged son in this novel that’s also a celebrated French film. Born into a large and poor Acadian family in Val-d’Amour, Céleste is hired as the pianist of Campbellton’s silent cinema, a circumstance that changes the course of her life. Explore the city where Céleste starts her career, in a place nestled against the Restigouche River and surrounded by the Appalachian Mountain Range of the Restigouche region.
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While this certainly isn’t a complete list of every book that features a New Brunswick setting, we hope you’ve enjoyed this little literary tour of the province and that you’ll share your additional finds with us. We’re excited to see what spots get immortalized on the page next!
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