Sylvia Barnard to release Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Willows - historical fiction based in Northern Ontario
Many people may be intrigued by the idea of time travel, but what if you can’t get back to your own time? This is the dilemma facing the main character in the new, debut novel, Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Willows from Sylvia Barnard.
Barnard served as president of Cambrian College in Sudbury from 2002 until 2013. In her retirement, Barnard has pursued her passion for writing, with her short stories appearing in online literary magazines and two anthologies.
Set in Northern Ontario, Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Willows follows main character, Kate Dumont Walker, who lives with her grandmother on the shores of the Spanish River in 1980. Unmarried, she is determined to keep her infant daughter. One day while snowshoeing along the river bank, she is unexpectedly hurled a hundred years back in time.
With no way to jump forward again, Kate eventually settles into a new life with single father, Claude Dumont, who is living in a log cabin on the same property as Kate’s present-day family home.
Kate’s journey back in time brings her into contact with true-life Northern Ontario characters like William Cornelius Van Horne, who is surveying the route for the transcontinental railway; Abe Obey, the first settler in Espanola; and various historical families instrumental in the establishment of Nairn.
Kate struggles with her role as history unfolds around her, particularly in the face of the 1910 passenger train derailment on a bridge crossing the Spanish River near Nairn Centre. Is her jump back in time connected to the crash? How would history change if she intervened and the 48 people killed in the accident didn’t die?
“I wanted to write a historical fiction based in Northern Ontario,” says Barnard. “When neighbours told us the best fishing could be found around the old stone rail bridge piers because of the derailment, my curiosity took over.”
Barnard spent several months combing through news articles, journals, maps, and local publications in the Espanola Library, piecing together the development of the region leading to the event. Armed with the facts, her imagination took over. Six years later, Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Willows was published.
Barnard is coming back to Sudbury for the launch of Rhubarb, Strawberries, and Willows. Book signings and a reading from the novel will be held:
– Sept. 29, Espanola Library, 245 Avery St., at 6:30 p.m.
– Oct. 3, Main Branch, Greater Sudbury Library, MacKenzie Street downtown, at 6 p.m.
– Oct. 4, South End Branch, Greater Sudbury Library, 1991 Regent Street (next to Southridge Mall), at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
– Oct. 15, Valley East Branch, Greater Sudbury Library, 4100 Elmview Dr., Hanmer, at 1 p.m.
For more information, visit www.sbarnardauthor.ca .
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