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Bruce Bishop's favourite Nova Scotian books

By Bruce Bishop • September 07, 2022Recommended Reading

Author Bruce Bishop, a fan of 20th century historical fiction, hails from Yarmouth, N.S. on the southwest coast of the province. He set his debut novel, Unconventional Daughters, in that seafaring town during the first thirty-five years of the 20th century. His second book, the interlinked Uncommon Sons, takes place in the capital city of Halifax in 1935-36.

Here, Bruce shares some of his favourite books with ties to Nova Scotia.

Fall On Your Knees by Anne Marie MacDonald

"My late mother was from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island. In 1996, she was quite excited when she heard about Ms. MacDonald’s family saga, and promptly bought a copy. I remember suppressing a smile when my mother deemed it “filth” and said couldn’t get beyond the first few chapters. Naturally, I had to read the whole novel for myself, and it unconsciously motivated me to one day write my own family saga, set at the other end of the province, in Yarmouth."

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Burden of Desire by Robert MacNeil

"I think almost everyone schooled in Nova Scotia has had to study Barometer Rising, Hugh MacLennan’s iconic novel about the Halifax Explosion that occurred in 1917. When MacNeil’s Burden of Desire was published in 1992, the novel offered a fresh take on the disaster as a backdrop to the compelling love-triangle storyline. When I began writing Unconventional Daughters, I also wanted to impart the feeling to the reader that sexual minorities and unorthodox pairings did exist one hundred years ago, and now we can evaluate our past social behaviours with the lens of a new century."

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Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

"As a child, I read every Bobbsey Twins book, Nancy Drew mystery and Hardy Boys novel I could find…and they were all on a bookshelf in our family home’s attic, donated by my godmother who had been the first reader of these childhood classics. The Anne of Green Gables books, set in neighboring Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia, were notably absent from this collection, and I don’t know why. I came to read the first book as a young adult, and then was hooked on the CBC television miniseries from 1985. It may be time to read the first “Anne” book again since my last visit to the island province was sixteen years ago."

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Two Solitudes by Hugh MacLennan

"I read Two Solitudes when majoring in English at university, and it left quite an impression as to how a novel could effortlessly inform and teach about a major aspect of Canadian society: that of the English and French heritage we share. The book taught me that when one is writing historical fiction, there’s no need to preach or belabour a topic. The writer needs to subtly introduce aspects of society that were prevalent at the time of the storyline, hopefully to enlighten as well as entertain the reader. I can only aspire to MacLennan’s excellent authorship and prolific output."

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What Kills Good Men by David Hood

"I met the author of this novel during the pandemic at my fitness centre during one of its more “open” periods. The revelation that we were both authors of historical fiction living in Halifax was surprising, as was the fact that we are around the same age. The big difference is in our writing styles, and that he was traditionally published, and I am independently published. I give David high marks for his meticulous research into late Victorian-era Halifax and its citizens of the day. Murder mystery lovers will be swept into the storyline of when a prominent city councilman is found murdered in Halifax harbour."◼︎

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Author Bruce Bishop, a fan of 20th century historical fiction, hails from Yarmouth, N.S. on the southwest coast of the province. He set his debut novel, Unconventional Daughters, in that seafaring town during the first thirty-five years of the 20th century. His second book, the interlinked Uncommon Sons, takes place in the capital city of Halifax in 1935-36.

Uncommon Sons by Bruce W. Bishop

Uncommon Sons is a fascinating tale of sexual identity, systemic racism, familial obligations, workplace pressures, and the bonds of love and friendship prior to World War II. Interlinked to Bishop’s debut novel, Unconventional Daughters, this new page-turner further explores what happens when adults are not what and who they are expected to be.

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Photo by Jamie Morrison on Unsplash

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