Starting in Newfoundland and Quebec this
story follows one wild lifetime from 1696 to
1762 in the birthing of a nation, not
conceived in liberty, but like the character
John Drew, concieved in violence and
confusion. It is also the story of an
unnamed, unhinged history teacher, a
narrator searching for his own identity as a
human being - a search for meaning where
the present and the past are one.
About the Author
Tom Moore lives in St. John's, Newfoundland and teaches high school in the nearby town of Avondale. He has published six books and several have won awards and been translated into foreign languages. His last two books were self-published. One is a national best seller, used as a text in four universities, and the other won the Percy Janes award for best novel manuscript in a field of 20 other Newfoundland books. His writing is about the human condition as reflected by a Newfoundlander, a Canadian and a human being.
"A jet flew overhead from Torbay airport towards Halifax and Toronto. I looked up, my right hand still on the cold iron plaque that recorded the ancient battle. There was a stink, not of laundry fluid this time but of rotting meat. Then there was a cloud, a fog or a smoke for a moment, and a soldier clad in the British scarlet of another century appeared behind the plaque. His dirty leather boots and high gaiters stood firmly on the sod. In his right hand was a musket with bayonet fixed and bloody. His left hand, like my right hand, touched the cold iron. For a time we stood like strange reverse images of each other at the foot of Quidi Vidi lake.
He was a stocky fellow and the smell of body odour, tobacco and damp clothes radiated off him. He looked quickly about with deep eyes that quickly appraised the new situation.
He reached across the sign and grabbed me by the sleeve. "Are you French?" he hissed. There was a scar over his left eye that descended through the lid. He had a large hooked nose and several black teeth in a pale maw. "Are you French?" he repeated.
"French? No." I tried to pull back my arm.
His mouth dripped with a black liquid and he spat out a long stream of tobacco juice. "I hate the French." That much resolved, he stepped back and shook himself, never letting go of my sleeve.
"Did you die here?" I asked. (There's a real conversation starter with a ghost!)
"On that blasted hill where you're standing! I was the first one across the Quidi Vidi river and the only officer killed." He looked down at a gaping hole in the front of his tunic, and fingered the unravelling material. "Damnation!"
"I'm sorry," I said.
"No odds! We beat them on the Plains and we won the war. That was enough."
He saw me looking at the bloody bayonet. "Oh, don't mind that." He let the gun drop to the dry grass and he sized me up carefully, frowning at my contemporary clothes. "Come 'ere," he pulled me towards him by the sleeve and leaned forward. Then he coughed suddenly and I was overpowered by the smell of him.
"I can show you everything." He grinned as appealingly as a rotting corpse can.
"Show me what?"
"Everything what happened . . .Wolfe ... everything.""
The vivid historical characters in The Plains of Madness create a compelling, uniquely Canadian story of the struggle between the English and the French for the riches of the New World. Tom Moore has the ability to make readers feel like they are a part of history as it happens. We experience, from both sides, the ferocity of the Indians' battle lust that both repels and fascinates their European allies, while terrorizing their enemies.
The conflicts between the English and French, Protestants and Catholics and the Old and New Worlds evoke a fascinating story of love, courage and madness as the violence escalates, ebbs and ultimately evolves into the country we know and love.
Moore's characters are convincing, his history exciting, conveying the urgency of the moment and the conflicting emotions of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances - like Newfoundlander John Drew, who was born nine months after a North American Indian raped his mother. It is ironic that Drew, born out of violence, only begins his true healing on the battlefield, where he comes face to face with proof of his mixed heritage.
Moore successfully brings all of the historical characters to life: the educated, civilized French general, Montcalm; the beautiful Ursuline nun, Sister Madeleine; and the strange British general, James Wolfe, whose description I quite enjoyed. ....The Sunday Telegram
"Against a background of English - French conflict, Tom Moore creates an absorbing and unusual novel ... Moore's narrative is compellingly written without ever becoming superficial." Paul O'Neill, Author
" The action scenes are brisk, the intrigue credible, the settings evocative and the characterization colorful and believable. The powerful creation of a convincing imaginary world blends the truth of history with the truth of experience ..." Dr. Everard King, Memorial University
" Author Tom Moore has been working on The Plains of Madness, his latest book, for the past six years. It recently won the Percy Janes Award for the best novel manuscript." The Evening Telegram, August 19, 2001
"The first time I knew that we had a contemporary Newfoundland literature was when I read a story in the Newfoundland Quartely called The Summer My Mother Died by Tom Moore. His writing is compelling with universal themes and superb quality ..." Eric Norman, Editor