The war was everywhere. When Annie and her mother went shopping they had to use coupon books, since sugar, butter, tea, and meat were rationed. The grocer used to regularly slip an extra pound of butter to Annie’s mom and sometimes even a jar of strawberry jam.
Traditions, created and subverted. Love, nurtured and destroyed. Friendships, marriages, and the wild beauty of Cape Breton Island. And above all, kin, in all it’s convoluted forms.
In KIN, bestselling author Lesley Crewe traces the tangled lines of loyalty, tragedy, joy, and love through three generations of families. Beginning with Annie Macdonald, an effervescent seven-year-old living in Glace Bay in the 1930’s, and ending with Annie’s great-niece Hilary, an idealistic twenty-year-old in Round Island in 2000, the story is complex and riveting. The cast of characters is vast and varied – some with the island’s deliciously cutting wit, some dour and uptight, some frail, some resilient, and all inextricably bound by their shared histories.
Brimming with humour and poignancy, Kin is a celebration of the heartbreaking, maddening joy that is family.
“Crewe’s writing has the breathless tenor of a kitchen-table yarn. A cinematic pace and crackling dialogue keep readers hooked.”
– Quill & Quire
Annie lay snuggled in her wrought-iron bed. Although the frame creaked when she turned over, it was still comfortable, with its stuffed mattress, handmade quilts, and flannel sheets. It was beside the window, and sometimes if the window was open, she’d get a fine misting of rain on her feather pillow. She could get on her knees in bed and look through the blinds, and spy on the people next door, but they didn’t do anything exciting, so she usually flopped back in bed and listened to the wonderful sounds of her hometown.
Her favourite was the song of the spring peepers around Copper’s Brook, but in the summer it was waking up to the putt, putt, putt of the single cylinder engines as the fishing fleet left the harbour at dawn. Her dad told her that in the summer, Glace Bay Harbour was so blocked with fishing boats that you could cross it by leaping from deck to deck.
The whistles of the busy S&L Railway announcing their approaches to crossings, the ringing of crossing bells, and even the distant sounds of trains shunting boxcars in the yard made up the background noise of Annie’s day. That and the noon Caledonia Colliery whistle that signalled it was time to go home for lunch.
The loneliest sound was the mournful double-toned BEE-OOH of the foghorn in the distance, and the nicest was the music from the circus grounds in the summer or skating music in the winter from the open-air rink on South Street.
Hands behind her head, she dreamed of what she was going to do that day. The possibilities were endless. She’d take her new friend Lila to feed her uncle’s pony. Or they could jump rope or climb a few trees.
Her mother’s voice drifted up the stairs. “David! Annie! It’s time to get up for school.”
Annie groaned and covered her head. She’d forgotten about school. She had to wear a new dress and new shoes today, which meant her feet would be sore and her neck itchy. But then she remembered Lila would be walking to Central School with her today, so she bounced out of bed and slipped into the bathroom ahead of David.
On the coal stove every morning was a big pot of thick, creamy porridge that had simmered in a double boiler all night. Annie always put lots of brown sugar and cream over it. Her mother would serve ham and eggs, toast with butter and homemade jam, along with milk and hot tea. Annie and David were always stuffed to the gills going out the door every morning.
When they came home for lunch, it was just as wonderful, with thick lobster, chicken or egg salad sandwiches on homemade bread, a large piece of pie or gingerbread, an apple, and more milk.
No, David and Annie didn’t know what it was to be hungry.