Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Social, religious, political, or economic strife has often been the catalyst for emigration. All these factors were instrumental in bringing Irish immigrants to Canada in the 19th century. When the government of Upper Canada - now Ontario - wanted to open up the primitive “backwoods” in the 1820s, Peter Robinson was sent to Ireland to find poor families willing to try their luck with free land grants in the primeval wilderness. Peterborough, in the Newcastle District, was named after Robinson by those grateful settlers who had survived the treacherous voyage and harsh conditions of pioneer life.
The settlement of Upper Canada by the Irish forms the backbone of my novel, A Place To Call Home.
This is what Anne Forrest said about it in “NUACHT”, the Community Newsletter of St. Patrick’s Society of Montreal:
“Once in a while a novel grabs the reader's attention from the opening pages to long after the final words have been savoured. Such is A Place To Call Home… it is Wills' ability to create believable characters that is most impressive…. Wills cleverly weaves several real historical figures into the novel who give the story a strong sense of authenticity…. A novel that is so detailed yet not boring is a rare gift. It takes the reader back to that period about which too little is known. It leaves him wishing he could join Rowena [O’Shaughnessy] and her family for a further 50 years.”
Writer's Digest Magazine said: "A Place To Call Home is a gripping and fascinating saga about an Irish family's immigration to Canada and the building and founding of the [fictional] Ontario town called Launston Mills. Wills masterfully traces the development of the town, told through the eyes of Irish immigrant, Rowena, and her son, Keir. The historical facts were flawlessly researched, but rather than it reading like a series of facts, Wills peopled the book with vivid and very real characters whose experiences captivate the reader. .... An exceptionally well-told story... A Place To Call Home offers a delightful glimpse into Canada's past, told through characters who come to life and jump off the page."
This novel is now available as an e-book as well. See A Place To Call Home for more information, and to order online.