Down the Coaltown Road: A Novel
Set in a small coal mining town in Cape Breton at the beginning of World War II, and against the backdrop of labour unrest in the coal mines, Down the Coaltown Road dramatizes a significant but almost forgotten event in Canadian history. After Mussolini took Italy into the war on the side of Hitler in June 1940, able-bodied Italian men were rounded up and interned in camps, some for as long as three years. Most of them had worked in the coal mines. Their families were left without income, and suffered the usual hostility and abuse that accompanies such episodes. In Coaltown, that drama plays out among a cast of memorable and finely wrought characters. The police come to take Tomassio. But Tomassio's arms, strengthened by fifteen years of loading coal with a pan shovel, fling off the officer, and he bolts. This act has far-reaching consequences for everyone in Coaltown: for his wife, Anna, who learned in Italy at an early age how to get what she needs from a man; for his son Gelo, who suddenly is the man of the family; for his lover Cathy, who had renounced one family for her husband and risked losing another for Tomassio; for his enemy and Cathy's husband Ump, a brash and bigoted man; and for his friend Big Jim McMahon, who stood up for him against an angry mob. As the social fabric of Coaltown strains and rends, it falls to Father Rod MacDonald - who lost an eye, but not his faith, in the war - to mend the pieces and transform individual acts of contrition into acts of redemption. Sheldon Currie is a natural storyteller, and his dialogue sparkles. Profound and humorous by turns, Down the Coaltown Road is a captivating novel about the human heart and the redemptive power of love. Sheldon Currie was a Professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish and the editor of the Antigonish Review. He now writes full time. The film Margaret's Museum, featuring Helena Bonham Carter as Margaret, one of Currie's most magnificent characters, is based on one of his short stories and includes episodes from several other pieces of his work. He has published two collections of short stories and two previous novels, The Company Store and The Glace Bay Miner's Museum.
Author: Sheldon Currie
Publisher: Key Porter Books, Fenn Publishing
Release Date: 2008-06-01