Classic and/or best books about the Canadian Maritimes
September 19, 2016 12:35 PM   Subscribe

After my umpteenth round of reading Farley Mowat and getting overly emotional listening to Stan Rogers, it's time to expand my horizons a little. What novels or nonfiction books would you recommend that are about or set in the Maritimes?

I'm happy to read pretty much anything about the Atlantic Canadian region, and am already familiar with Mowat of course, and LM Montgomery. The Boat that Wouldn't Float is one of my favorite books of all time; I am...less enamoured of Montgomery these days. I'm slightly more interested in fiction, but nonfiction is probably great too! Modern or classic is equally fine -- I'm actually kind of interested in reading the Classic Canadian Novels, as described by Kate Beaton here. My main goal is that I want to feel immersed in the place and the culture and so on.

Thank you!
posted by kalimac to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For Atlantic Canada as a whole rather than just the Maritimes, I'd suggest Newfoundland texts like Mary Sheppard's Seven For Secret, Michael Crummy's Sweetland, anything by Wayne Johnston, anything by Lisa Moore but especially February, and various books by Cassie Brown like Death on the Ice.
posted by bibliotropic at 12:55 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No Great Mischief (novel) and Island (short stories) by Alistair MacLeod
posted by Prunesquallor at 1:04 PM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: The Shipping News! The Bird Artist!
posted by athirstforsalt at 1:09 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've only read her as an adult, but I think LM Montgomery counts as one of the great North American nature writers even though land and seascape were backdrop rather than characters in their own right most of the time.

Dorothy Gilman of Mrs. Pollifax fame moved up to the Eastern shore of Nova Scotia after her oldest son went off to college, and produced a beautifully written and very evocative memoir: A New Kind of Country.
posted by jamjam at 1:14 PM on September 19, 2016

Best answer: Fall On Your Knees, Ann-Marie MacDonald.

Three Hills Home, Alfred Silver.

Annabel, Kathleen Winters (set in Labrador)

David Adam Richards, although his books tend to be pretty bleak.
posted by carolr at 1:18 PM on September 19, 2016

Best answer: Glace Bay Miners' Museum (the story on which the film Margaret's Museum was based) is set on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia.
Fall on Your Knees is fantastic, and also set on Cape Breton.
Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote extensively about Prince Edward Island.
posted by spockpuppy at 1:26 PM on September 19, 2016 [2 favorites]

2005 winner of the Canada Reads competition. Rockbound by Frank Parker Day.
posted by little eiffel at 1:41 PM on September 19, 2016

Nthing Fall On Your Knees, ooohhh
posted by stray at 2:31 PM on September 19, 2016


The Colony of Unrequited Dreams
posted by girlpublisher at 2:45 PM on September 19, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan, historical fiction set in WW1 Halifax which also incorporates the Explosion as a central event.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 3:14 PM on September 19, 2016

Nthing Alistair Macleod.

How about the great Antonine Maillet's Pelagie: The Return to Acadie (this as well as many of her books & plays are available in translation if that is a requirement). My wife is very fond of the novel The Birth House by Ami McKay. Perhaps for nonfiction Notes From Exile: On Being Acadian by Clive Doucet. Which in turn reminds me of this CBC Radio Ideas programme: In the Footsteps of Evangeline - Lyse Doucet.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:03 PM on September 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rebecca Miller published the screenplay of The Ballad of Jack and Rose.
posted by brujita at 6:00 PM on September 19, 2016

I really enjoyed Gaff Topsails by Patrick Kavanagh - set in Newfoundland.
Rockbound is a "classic" set in Nova Scotia I haven't read.
The Nymph and the Lamp is also an old "classic" that is a great little read which will take you to Sable Island.

And for God's sake read some Alistair MacLeod RIGHT NOW.
posted by Brodiggitty at 6:01 PM on September 19, 2016

David Adam Richards, although his books tend to be pretty bleak...

It's the grim classic rural Can-Lit, but Mercy Among The Children is interesting and well-written.

Caught by Lisa Moore is vivid, a swell book. Middle acts in the tropics, begins and ends in NF.
posted by ovvl at 7:05 PM on September 19, 2016

I'm glad that someone else recommended Wayne Johnston's The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. His earlier novel The Divine Ryans is also quite good.

If you want to hear a different sort of narrative from Maritime history, Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes (published in some countries, including the USA, as Somebody Knows My Name) is set partially in Nova Scotia.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:12 PM on September 19, 2016

Since we're all here, an obscure east-coast Can-Lit ask-me within and ask-me, if that's okay:

I wanted to mention it above: an obscure fiction novel about Labrador that had I read many years ago; It was about a white trapper that ran a trap line in north Labrador, and it was well written. The back page mentioned that the author was a representative for government in Labrador in the 60's? and he looked kinda like Farley Mowat, with the burly beard and wool sweater in the photo. This is not The White Eskimo, but it is something kinda similar to that.
posted by ovvl at 7:31 PM on September 19, 2016

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