Nova Scotia Books

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Nova Scotia Books

Ago 18, 2009, 10:54am

This is a thread for listing and discussing books with a Nova Scotia setting.

Ago 18, 2009, 2:34pm

Fall on Your Knees is a dark family saga set on Cape Breton island. It's fantastic, but not cheerful.

Alastair MacLeod is a famous Nova Scotian writer, No Great Mischief is one of his finest.

Ago 18, 2009, 8:28pm

Oh, and The Museum Guard by Howard Norman, set in a small Halifax art museum, is good in a quirky, low-key way.

Ago 19, 2009, 12:34am

Did anyone manage to make it through Fall on Your Knees? I did but it was very difficult with the subject matter. I actually had times where I had to stop and read another book something light and fluffy just to deal with what I was reading. Very well written but also frightning.
~ Missy

Ago 19, 2009, 11:53am

I had the same reaction--at times it was too intense. But I'm glad I read it and a lot certainly happened, it just wasn't a light, easy read that made you feel happy afterwards.

Ago 25, 2009, 4:08pm

I just got a copy of The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, which is partially set in Nova Scotia.

Ago 25, 2009, 9:40pm

I read Fall on your Knees end to end, but it was emotionally exhausting. I've resolved to avoid similar books in the future because I find they affect my mood in negative ways.

As RWG knows, I just finished The Book of Negroes. It's a good summer read and just short of an epic in some ways. I recommend it.

Sep 21, 2009, 8:47pm

Giller Prize long list: Linden MacIntyre, The Bishop's Man

Dic 2, 2009, 4:20pm

I've mentioned these in another thread, excuse the duplication:

My Nova Scotia choice was Birds of a feather: tales of a wild bird haven by Linda Johns, a lovely account but it didn't have a strong sense of location so I added Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan the fictionalized account of the explosion of a munitions ship in Halifax harbour on Dec 6, 1917 (this one was a worthwhile re-read). Then I heard of The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntryre - looking forward to that one. Now that I've started this challenge I keep finding more and more . . .

Ene 4, 2010, 6:22pm

I discovered Howard Norman's My Famous Evening through searching on LibraryThing, and I would recommend it highly for a non-fiction selection, especially if you've already read some of his novels. He provides a few nuggets of information about the inspiration for some of his characters and settings.

Ene 7, 2010, 12:02am

A wonderful Nova Scotia novel is The Birth House by Ami McKay.

Editado: Ene 24, 2010, 5:00pm

I had to pull my original message here because I wrote about a book that should have been listed under New Brunswick. I must have been half asleep or something!

Ene 18, 2010, 9:35am

I'm anxious to read The Birth House for my Nova Scotia pick. Based on your rec, though, starfishian, I've added The Sea Captain's Wife to my wishlist. I'm still looking for a good sea-faring historical fiction, after being so horridly disappointed with Ahab's Wife.

Feb 3, 2010, 1:25pm

Just finished The Birth House and I really enjoyed it. I hope countrylife and Ridgeway Girl (who will be receiving my copy in the mail shortly), enjoy it too :)

Feb 3, 2010, 2:05pm

You pushed me over the edge, michelle! I just had to buy a copy off eBay. Looking forward to it!

Feb 4, 2010, 9:08am

lol - I think you'll find it worth your while, countrylife :)

Jul 19, 2010, 8:18am

I just received a list of top books of July 2010 by one of the online bookstores. It appears that one of those top books, What Is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman, is set in Nova Scotia.

Jul 19, 2010, 12:34pm

Thanks for the heads up Thornton!

Barometer Rising is on mount TBR right now.

Looking at the books I have labelled as Nova Scotia I also see:

The Stepsure Letters
The mountain and the valley

Editado: Jul 27, 2010, 1:44pm

You can pick me up at Peggy's Cove is a Childrens/YA book set in NS:
Ryan’s dad is going through C.O.L., also known as "change of life syndrome," as the adults like to call it. He went away for the summer to try to work through his problems, leaving his family behind. Ryan’s mother decides to send Ryan to Peggy’s Cove, the most beautiful cove in the world, for the summer to stay with his Aunt Fay, who owns and operates a store there. Peggy’s Cove is all right, Ryan thinks, if it weren’t so small and crowded with tourists.

Still, he manages to make friends. First, he befriends Drummer, a misfit. But hanging out with Drummer proves disastrous because it makes him behave in ways he never has before and gets him into trouble. Next, he finds friendship with fishermen Eddie and Wing Ding, who teach him how to fish. The time he spends with the two fishermen is the best moments of his visit. Even so, he still thinks of his father a lot and writes him a letter in hopes of getting his attention. After spending a summer apart, will their relationship ever be the same?

Three hills home is another NS book labelled YA.

Sep 28, 2010, 4:02am

I received this as an Early Reviewers book, Her Mother's Daughter by Lesley Crewe. My review is at It is a nice light read set in Louisbourg, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Jun 19, 2011, 4:01pm

Wanted to add this book in to the list of Nova Scotia books. Last Days in Africville is a young adult novel about a young girl 'Struggling with what it means to be the only black student in her calss in the mid 1960's Halifax'. What she does enjoy is the close-knit community in Africville just outside the city. The neighbours are all friendly and know each other, the church is important to them, etc. Suddenly the city wants the land to build a second bridge. Some are being offered money to move. Some want to move, while others do not. Many own the land and do not want to move somewhere where they will now be paying rent, and do not want to see their community torn apart. Others want to move to where city services are (water etc) and figure they had better move before they are forced out. Suddenly the church is bulldozed by movers in the middle of the night. Will Selina's family move?

Jul 24, 2011, 1:21pm

Been reading some of these interesting titles of books set in NS. Just wanted to mention that I have two romance novels set in Nova Scotia. Angel's Blessing set in the Annapolis Valley and Heart of Winter set on the Northumberland Strait. My third novel to be published soon is Who Wants to Murder a Millionaire? This is a mystery suspense that is set on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
You can view my novels and short stories at

Ago 6, 2011, 9:03pm

Thank you! :)

Abr 2, 2012, 9:21pm

I just finished Cape Breton Road by MacDonald and enjoyed it. It's about a young man who is deported back to Canada and goes to live with his uncle in Nova Scotia for a bit until he can get back on his feet. It's interesting to see things from the perspective of someone who is both an outsider and a native.

Sep 17, 2012, 5:29am

Just finished Our Daily Bread by Lauren B. Davis. An excellent but dark read set in Nova Scotia. Really a page turner, 5 stars. It is long listed for this years 2012 Giller. Well worth the read!

Sep 17, 2012, 1:07pm

Good to hear your opinion of Our Daily Bread Deborah. I was just making a note of this title on my wishlist when I read your post. Thanks.

Jul 21, 2018, 3:36pm

Might as well bring this out of dormancy to mention an LTER book that is set in Halifax. Quid Pro Quo is aimed at 11 to 14 year olds but is quite interesting enough for adults too.

Abr 14, 2019, 6:36pm

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 / Sally M. Walker
4 stars

On Dec 6, 1917, there was an explosion in the Halifax Harbour. Around 2000 people were killed and many more injured.

This book is aimed toward younger readers, but I found it a good introduction. There are also plenty of archival photos included. The author decided to tell the stories of a few specific families – to follow what happened to the people in those families, what they were doing at the time, etc. I do think this makes the book more “relatable”.

I did know of the explosion, but this is the first I’ve read about it, to really get more info/details on it. I already have other books on my tbr about the topic, as well. I thought this book was very well done. (Hate to say I “really liked” a book about a disaster, though I’m sure I have before!)

Abr 14, 2019, 7:48pm

>28 LibraryCin: a really good fictional account of the Halifax explosion is Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan. A Canadian classic!

Abr 15, 2019, 3:58pm

>29 raidergirl3: I've heard of the book; I didn't know that's what it was about! Thank you!

Abr 16, 2019, 12:56pm

I also just finished a book set in Nova Scotia that has a tie to the Halifax Explosion. Come from Away by Genevieve Graham is set during the Second World War and involves a U-boat seaman that comes ashore in Nova Scotia and meets a young woman whose parents were in Halifax during the explosion. Her three brothers were orphaned in the explosion and the parents adopted them and then had her. It is based on a true incident in which some of the crew of a German U-boat showed up at a country dance in Nova Scotia.

Jun 11, 2020, 12:23am

Missing / Frances Itani
4 stars

In France, Luc was 12-years old in 1917 when he saw an air battle between one British and two German planes. The British plane came crashing down and Luc ran towards where the pilot landed. He was only able to notice/discover a few things before Germans shoo-ed him away, but enough to find out the pilot’s name, nationality (Canadian), and to collect a few souvenirs before heading home. Back in Nova Scotia, Jack Greenway’s parents are worried for their only son who went off to be a pilot in this war.

This is a very good short story. I would have loved for it to be longer, still, to be able to put more detail into the story. This was based on true events. Itani is a very good writer of war stories.

Jul 18, 2020, 12:01am

The Great Halifax Explosion / John U. Bacon
4 stars

On Dec. 5, 1917, two ships collided in the Halifax Harbour. One of them was loaded down with explosives, meant to head to Europe for the war effort. Instead, with the collision, a good chunk of Halifax and neighbouring Richmond were wiped out in an instant, along with a couple thousand (likely a low estimate) people, and more thousands injured.

This was very well researched. It does include some discussion of the war, and a soldier from Nova Scotia who ended up helping out after the disaster, as he was back home after being severely injured. Also includes a detailed account of the ships and crew involved in the collision, as well as tidbits of time of some of the civilians on shore who were affected (lost family members, lost homes, injuries...).

Ene 6, 9:48pm

Barometer Rising / Hugh MacLennan
3.25 stars

It’s 1917 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Penny (a woman working at the shipyard – very unusual for the time)’s love (and cousin) has been at war and he’s missing. They all think he’s dead. So, when Angus (much older than Penny) asks her to marry him, she accepts. Only days later, the Halifax Harbour goes up in an explosion.

The book only follows just over one week. It took longer than I liked to get to the explosion. Leading up to it wasn’t nearly as interesting as the explosion itself and the aftermath, but not long after, it concluded mostly with their regular lives again. If there had been more focus on the disaster, I would have enjoyed it more, I’m sure. There was an afterword by another “classic” Canadian author, Alistair Macleod – one of those that analyzes the book; one of the ones that should never be an introduction but often is (because it gives away the story)! Luckily, it was an afterword.