By Don Hannah
In Ragged Islands, Don Hannah gives us a moving, witty and tender portrait of a remarkably modern old woman at the end of a life bound by family secrets, blessed with great love, and rocked by events in the outside world.
It is September 2001, and eighty-five-year old Susan Ann Roberts lies dying in a Toronto hospital when she resolves to return to the places in the Maritimes that defined her as a young girl, wife and mother. She begins her magical journey at the family farm where she spent her childhood summers, and travels along old roads, visiting the lost houses of her memory, and meeting people from her life, among them, her birth mother as a young girl.
As she approaches Ragged Islands, Nova Scotia, and the house she shared with her husband – she continues to ponder the question of her birth: Why was she given away, especially when siblings born both earlier and later were kept?
Although she vowed that her own children would never feel unwanted, she fears that her son and daughter–hovering near her bedside–are more put out than caring. Meg, her granddaughter, is also nearby, but her dearest grandson Tommy is stuck in New York–something is happening there, planes and buildings, people falling from the sky.
“This is a book of rare poetry, with many points at which one must stop to reflect. When I closed Ragged Islands I thought of my own mother dying…Death is the last great, private adventure, and Hannah helps us come to grips with that difficult fact.”
–Quill & Quire
“By page 10, we forget all about the author- a gracious disappearing act that happens much less often than it should in modern literature- and instead become absorbed in the story. His writing is unadrorned, even unliterary, but in the best possible sense. He avoids 10 dollar words and overwrought metaphors, preferring to focus on the story itself.”
–The Globe and Mail
Knopf Canada, January 2007