The World is a Stage

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Laurel Beechey - The World is a Stage

Somehow a passion for history managed to bloom even though educational history classes were extremely boring.

I think it was from reading historical fictions which take all the tedious history away and make it come alive. Some authors take years to research the time period their books are set in. How people talk, walk, dress, act and think. They must take the reader to another time and place and they need to get it right.

Last year Elaine Cougler was a guest at the Tillsonburg Military Club’s November meeting, as was I, and I was privileged to hear her talk about her first historical novel, The Loyalist’s Wife. She had me hooked from the beginning. I have a zeal for Canada’s history, especially its fledgling beginnings when settlers carved their niche into our dense wilderness.

The Loyalist’s Wife took place in the same time period and places that my own family history began in the New World. Few people realize that after the U.S. Revolution, lawless reigned. Britain removed their social structure and there was none to replace it. That took years. Those who wanted to stay under Britain, the Loyalists, were of course persecuted. Ruffians would go to the Loyalists property in the wilds, murder the families and take over the farms. The Loyalists held out as long as they could before heading through the bush to Canada. That is the history. The fiction is the young loyalist couple, based on Elaine’s own ancestors, who try to hold their lands in the wilds of New York State. But when John joined Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King, everything changed. He left Lucy to care for the farm for months, not even knowing she was pregnant.

Elaine captured the fears of living in isolated farms, fears of animals, natives and thugs who came to steal and kill. Lucy is helped in unexpected ways, but eventually sees no recourse than to try to get to Canada. Her journey across New York is determined, desperate, and heroic and shows us what women of yester year had to be made of. Finally she crosses the Niagara River, with virtually nothing, to start anew in Canada.

It was a marvellous book and I have been waiting impatiently for the sequel as it nears one of my favourite time periods, the War of 1812. While Elaine was busy writing book number two, The Loyalist’s Wife was entered into and became a finalist in the Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair contest, which is a Canada-wide contest for self-published books.

The Loyalist’s Wife was in the top six chosen out of 260. Although Elaine did not win top honours, she did have the chance to say: “It’s an honour just being nominated.” She also had the thrill of having Canada’s honoured and bestselling author Terry Fallis mention her name and book to the audience.

Needless to say I was quite excited when Elaine was in touch to let me know the second book of her trilogy, The Loyalist’s Luck, is now available.

Elaine will be presenting The Loyalist’s Luck at the Tillsonburg Library on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. Although from Woodstock, Elaine is known in Tillsonburg. I met her too many years ago in a Theatre Tillsonburg production. You may be sure, if you haven’t read her first book, that she will have some available at the presentation as well.

Another honour which has been bestowed upon Elaine and her husband Ron, by Bill Shaw of Expedia Cruise Ships in Woodstock, is to be ‘onboard author’ on Princess Cruise Line’s Oct. 10 New England Cruise. This 'Authors & History Tour’ is aboard the brand new Regal Princess departing New York City and sails to Halifax, St. John, Bar Harbor, Boston, and Newark. Readings from the books and open discussions about the places along the route and their line to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 will make this an unusual cruise. I should think that they will need the support of other Canadians on this cruise, if for no other reason than to teach the Americans their own history.

It sounds very exciting and you can ask all about it on Feb. 10 or call Expedia Cruise Ship Centers at 519-537-8333.

I shall take great pleasure in re-reading The Loyalist’s Wife before attending Elaine’s presentation so I will be ready to not only ask a question or two, but to get my hands on The Loyalist’s Luck and start reading it – I need to know what has happened to John and Lucy. Of course the worst part about all of this is the word 'trilogy.' It means I must garner some patience waiting for book number three! Please hurry that along, Elaine!

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