Award-winning Vernon author Patricia Donahue is launching her second novel next week, Mighty Orion – Secrets, at the Vernon library.
The evening of literary readings will include “Readings from Writers,” (members of the Federation of BC Writers) and others.
A sequel to Mighty Orion – Fate, this second novel was “baptized” in the Atlantic salt chuck. Donahue introduced it earlier, 3,000 miles away, in the very setting of the fictitious Kilkenny family, Dalhousie, Northern New Brunswick.
Mighty Orion – Secrets continues the family saga that spans four generations, weaving in and out as personal disclosure spurs further disclosure, and understanding leads to emotional healing. The stories — there are stories within stories — brings the reader back to the time when tall ships were used in commercial trade, and merchant sailors hailed in large numbers from Atlantic Canada. At one time, 45 per cent of the ships on the Seven Seas were constructed in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Bank of Canada was built on this industry.
With the sympathetic ear of his son Joe, a salmon fisherman from the west coast, and the love of his wife, Clara, Percy, the Kilkenny patriarch, opens up about the hardships of his life: his running away to sea at age 13, and the harshness and adventures that followed. Having run his own family with the authority of a sea captain, Percy has many bridges to mend with his now-adult children who show up with problems of their own.
“… that day I returned, a peculiar thought came to mind. Funny how it is you recall them things. I was thinking how the handsomeness of the house on the outside didn’t let on what was happening on the inside,” Percy, in an excerpt from Mighty Orion – Fate.
The story also explores the issue of nursing home placement of the elderly. The novels take place in the early ‘70s when nursing homes were being introduced in larger numbers. Adjustments by family members and societal attitudes are explored.
Donahue comes from a bilingual family of mariners and ship builders.
“We never owned a car,” she says, “but always there was a boat to take our family of nine out on the Bay of Chaleur.
“My father was at the helm and he made sure there was always a large cabin to shelter the little ones in bad weather.”
Following the tradition, Donahue is a tall ship sailor having earned her Level 1 Seamanship in 2004, aboard the 180-ft. tall ship, Bark Europa, registered in the Netherlands. She has a background in nursing, education and counseling psychology from which she draws for her writing.
She has taught writing at UBC-O for four years, including summer writing camps, presented at writers’ fairs, has given workshops on a variety of writing genres, edited, and sat on writing-discussion panels. She has short stories published in Kelowna’s Event magazine, in several anthologies, and is a recent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. See her hair-raising story, Bruno’s Bruin, in the sub-titled edition, O Canada; The Wonders of Winter, coming out Nov. 5. In 2012, she was the winner of the Okanagan Literary Arts Award.
Donahue’s launch of her new novel is part of what she calls an entertaining evening.
“And if you can sing a sea shanty you’ll be especially welcomed,” she said.
Mighty Orion – Secrets is published by Borealis Press, Ottawa. The literary evening takes place Oct. 10 from 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at the Vernon library. Admission is free, and includes refreshments and door prizes. Both novels will be on sale, with the author available to sign.