Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Blog Tour: The Quarryman's Girl



Fiction (General, Literary, Women's, Historical)

Date Published: 07-21-2022

Publisher: Mountain Lake Press

photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Life is winding down for French Canadian immigrant Rose Dowd. She isn’t fighting the flow until Fate forces her to gear up for yet another chapter. Much like her adopted country, as it stakes out a new international role in World War II, Rose must reinvent herself. Quickly. Before she can move forward, however, she needs to absorb lessons from her past, by channeling her former persona as the spunky Quarryman’s girl, by reexamining her culture shock and parental abandonment, and by mending a long-standing rift with her sister Isabelle.

Integral to Rose’s journey are her sharp-tongued sister Izzy; her perpetually worried son Vince, a resourceful shipyard worker; her long dead Métis mentor Mère Agathe; her bright and bubbly, but sickly granddaughter Netty; and Nate, “The Ragman’s Grandson,” a club-footed, pre-law student dreading his future. Follow these unforgettable characters from the 1880s to the 1940s, Travel from the hard-scrabble pig farms of Quebec to the granite quarries of Quincy (Massachusetts); from the frozen St. Lawrence River to the deep-channel Fore River, launching pad for some of World War II’s most famous warships.


What a loser you are, Kagan, Nate thought, after turning around for the hundredth time on Rose’s cramped sofa. The large crucifix dominating the opposite wall made him uneasy, even though it was barely visible in the gloom. And the anodyne effects of his post-prandial toddy had long since worn off. His sins awoke him at two o’clock.

            There was the sin of his physical disability. Three lousy miles to my own bed and it might as well be thirty. He needed some driver to come to his rescue, but none was available. The side roads had yet to be plowed, keeping all but the most daring at home. That included his father and grandfather. Vince had been called in for another shift at the shipyard, to handle all the problems caused by the foul weather. So there was no rescue from him, either.

            There was the sin of being twenty-one and still a virgin. He had hopes for Betty, a classmate who was no looker but had a lively sense of humor and didn’t seem to mind his limp. They had been to two movies and dinner. She seemed to have fun every time. But lately she was acting standoffish, probably because she wearied of taking the smelly subway everywhere. Nate’s MG was currently buried under the snow in Vince’s driveway, where it awaited additional scrounged parts.

            There was the sin of general loneliness. Nate had a study buddy, with whom he shared the occasional beer. Nate hung out with Ben—who had acne, thinning hair, a weight problem, and a slight stutter—mainly to be kind. Ben hung out with him because kindness was something rarely experienced from contemporaries. It wasn’t much of a friendship. Lying on that narrow sofa, Nate was depressed to conclude that Vince Dowd probably qualified as his closest friend, a middle-aged husband and father with precious little time or energy for the kind of socializing twenty-one year-olds were supposed to crave.

            There was the sin of not really craving most of the socializing Nate’s more popular classmates enjoyed.

            There was the sin of being genuinely interested in the lives of the two old ladies upstairs. What was wrong with him? How many other young men would actually enjoy chatting with dotty Rose or bantering with the acerbic Izzy? Nate hoped he didn’t have some oedipal fixation. He suspected his enjoyment of Rose and Izzy traced back to the writer in him. That inner novelist also eavesdropped happily on restaurant conversations, to absorb how strangers from different walks of life spoke. He was fascinated by their different vocabulary choices, even their grammatical errors and speech cadence.

            There was the sin of acting like a complete moron earlier today. First, he had been way too pushy with Izzy. Of course, the tension between her and her sister was utterly irrelevant to his history thesis. But it piqued his writer’s curiosity. He had made her uncomfortable and angry. And then he overdid the effort to make nice, cooking up his stupid fried egg sandwiches for everyone, talking too much, and generally acting like a dancing bear. Even Rose and Netty stared at him as if antennae were twirling from his temples.

            There was the sin of making no progress toward his new goal of skipping out on law school and finding some kind of work reporting on the war. He had made some half-assed inquiries among classmates pursuing degrees in journalism—half-assed because everything hinged on his finding the courage to tell his parents law school was not for him. While making little progress toward launching a journalistic career, he had covered his bases by applying to Harvard and Boston University Law School. He figured Harvard would reject him. Maybe he’d get lucky and B.U. would as well.

            “Oy,” he moaned at the dark ceiling. At this utterance, something stirred nearby. His nearsighted eyes scanned the living room. Perhaps the dog had sauntered downstairs? He reached behind his head for the side table, where he had folded his glasses. As his hand groped around the table, it bumped into an unfamiliar object, soft and warm and feeling a lot like skin. Whipping around, Nate could just make out a large shape, occupying the chair on the other side of the end table. “What the…?”

            “Shh, mon cher,” the shape whispered. “Go back to sleep. That diphtheria, it’s no match for my strong boy.” Rose moved her hand from the teacup on the end table to Nate’s forehead. “See? Fever almost all gone. My Vincent’s a strong one, him. You sleep now and you be tiguidou come morning. You betcha.”

            Nate lay back, unsure whether he should turn on the nearby lamp, unsure whether he wanted to see the tableau now playing out in the darkness. He willed his pulse rate to slow. At her dottiest, Rose posed no threat, he reminded himself. His heart was almost back to normal rhythm when a barely audible lullaby wafted from the shadow beside him. Shivering, he strained to make out the French words. He thought he caught the refrain. Fais do do? He translated the first word as the imperative for “do” or “make” but had no idea what the singer wanted done or made. As he struggled to recall some French colloquialisms, his focus shattered as the apparent lullaby came to an abrupt halt when Rose began sobbing softly, “Oh, Maryellen, ma petite! My poor, lost bébé!


About the Author

Melanie Forde grew up hearing fanciful tales about her voyageur forefathers swaggering through 17th century Quebec, while her Métis foremothers parsed the mysteries of the natural world. It was only a matter of time before she mined those memories for a novel. It was high time that she set her characters in the gritty hometown that started her own journey: Quincy, Massachusetts. She’d like to think she inherited some of the earlier generations’ resilience, joie de vivre and attunement with Mother Nature. She credits both her French Canadian and Irish ancestors with the storytelling gene that inspired four previous, character-driven novels. Although she now lives in the Virginia mountains, far from both Quebec and Quincy, she sometimes hears ghostly sled dogs howling softly amid the moonshadows that dapple the snow.


Also by Melanie Forde:

• Hillwilla

• On the Hillwilla Road

• Reinventing Hillwilla

• Decanted Truths


Contact Links





Purchase Link





a Rafflecopter giveaway

RABT Book Tours & PR

No comments:

Post a Comment