The internationally acclaimed author of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams introduces us to the Johnstons of Ferryland in an intimate, captivating, deeply felt memoir centred on three generations of fathers and sons.
Wayne Johnston's Baltimore's Mansion is filled with heart-stopping description, a cast of stubborn, acerbic, yet utterly irresistible family members, and an evocation of time and place reminiscent of his best fiction. Charlie Johnston is the blacksmith of Ferryland, a Catholic colony founded by Lord Baltimore in the 1620s on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. For his occupational forging prowess, he is considered as necessary as the parish priest at local weddings. But he must spend the first cold hours of every working day fishing at sea with his sons, one of whom, Arthur, vows that as an adult, he will never look to the sea for his livelihood. In the heady months leading up to the 1948 referendum that results in Newfoundland being "inducted into Canada", Art leaves the island, parting on mysterious terms with Charlie. In his absence, Charlie dies and Newfoundland loses its status as a country. Years later, Wayne decides to leave the island at the very age his father was when he said good-bye to Charlie, and old patterns threaten to repeat themselves.
Baltimore's Mansion is at times a harrowing tale of trails in the darkness, of grand desolation and dangerous coasts. It speaks to us all about the hardships, blessings and power of family relationships, of leaving home and returning, and captures, for all time, both the spirit of Newfoundlanders and the spirit of the Rock itself.
Click for more titles by Wayne Johnston