May 1, 2020
It is my great pleasure to draw your attention to the latest release by the award-winning Canadian author and artist Margaret Lindsay Holton. TRILLIUM is a sweeping historical fiction saga that spans 250 years of the lives of three families in Ontario, Canada. I came across M.L. Holton’s work through my interest in historical fiction. Her books do not disappoint.
Brief description of TRILLIUM:
Insightful, compelling, engrossing and enlightening, TRILLIUM intimately portrays the intertwining evolution of three very distinct families in the wine-making region known as Niagara in the Golden Horseshoe region, Ontario, Canada. The setting for the novel is a complex history that begins with early exploration and settlement of the land to the devastating years of famine and poverty in southern Ontario. It all starts when 19-year-old Tom Hartford crosses over the mighty Niagara River in the 1750s. Readers will meet Maaka, an ingenious indigenous trapper; Franco, a dirt poor Sicilian laborer; Paddy O’Sullivan, a sweet-talking Irish con-artist and sweet Cate, the Hamilton port prostitute. And that’s just the beginning! All unfolds with a pair of motherless red-headed twin brothers, a diabolical hate-filled drunkard, two devoted raven-haired sisters, an obsessed land developer, hard-working Mexicans, a blind man, a handsome Italian-Canadian wine-maker, a blessed treasure trove of attentive mothers, one demented vineyard-wandering wife, and a startlingly beautiful, simpleton savant, Anna. This unforgettable story spans 250 years and conveys the rich and compelling history of three families that try to survive and cling to their land through often-times brutal challenges.
Below, an excerpt from the review by a fellow Canadian, A. Brindle:
“Through long-standing feuds and the forging of strong relationships, the three families learn to survive on the land. The women in this saga are particularly inspiring. They are an essential counterpoint to the passions of the men. Within the framework of their families, wives, mothers and daughters have their own intimate stories to tell.
Equal parts historical fact and invented social romp, this character-driven novel grips you from the get-go. The players all have their own ties to the land that eventually, through their hard work, sweat and swindling, becomes the Niagara wine-making district that we know today.
Cultures and personalities frequently clash. Love is lost and found. Feuds simmer and erupt. But, above all, it is the promise of rich fertile soil that pulls the characters forward. M.L. Holton convincingly immerses the reader in a rural landscape we recognize but did not fully know. We emerge with a broader appreciation of the importance and enduring value of roots, past and present.”
M.L. Holton explained that in writing this novel, she was interested in exploring particular aspects of the evolving Canadian psyche in context of key historical events. Throughout she focused on how external factors shape her characters’ development and their relationships with others. Again and again she returned to the ties that bind families together, in this particular case against the backdrop of the land that sustains them and challenges them in turn.
Great sagas touch us through the written word. But listening to these same words offers yet another treat. TRILLIUM is soon to be released as an audio version, narrated by a Canadian actor, Jens Hansen. His style and voice are perfect for this book, lyrical, musical, with a dark tone and an occasional rasp, strong enough to capture the epic sweep of this novel.
If you wish to learn more about M.L. Holton, check out her blog: https://canadadaphotography.blogspot.com. It is filled fascinating insights into the work of this versatile and creative Canadian artist and author.