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From the shores of The Great Lakes to the slums of Bombay and a tiny island in between, this love story takes the reader on an intimate journey to unravel a family secret that’s laid hidden for generations.
To satisfy her wandering feet, eighteen-year old Gillian McAllister is sent from Ireland to Canada in the summer of 1932. She arrives with her Irish ways in tact, determined not to let the wiles of crop duster Christian Hunter woo her into submission. Yet as the summer unfolds and the sweet taste of love grows, Gillian’s appeal lures more than she anticipates. Fourteen years, a Great Depression, and a World War later, Christian sets out to discover why Gillian was ripped from his life. What he discovers on the Isle of Man will change them both forever. Not even a thatched cottage by the sea, a spritely Gillian, or memories sprinkled on a page can mask the secret that has been buried for too long. But it isn’t until a set of poems is given to Gillian’s granddaughter that the real mystery––Gillian’s true secret––is freed. So who is Pugsley?
With a narrative that captures the nostalgia of loss and secrecy, Susan Örnbratt’s The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley is sure to bring back stirring memories of first loves and arguably simpler times.
They had arrived on the breeze of Dominion Day hoopla. A chilly breeze for July, according to Uncle Herbert, that swept through a maze of wooden shanties lining a small harbor in a place called Tobermory. Never would she have imagined being in such a place just a year after tapping on Beaty’s door in London. Canada of all places. On its birthday.
The harbor was rather wide open in the center, like a large car park, but it was its name Little Tub that stole Gillian’s heart. Whose brilliant idea was that? It was just how it looked, like a big fat washtub with oodles of toy boats bobbing gaily in the bath.
A smattering of barns sat on the edge of the water. Gillian imagined they housed great big boats for repair, or maybe some enormous treasure discovered from one of those sunken ships Uncle Herbert was telling her about. How could anyone not like such a place? The name alone brought back such lovely memories of a Scotland she once met. How she missed her mother sometimes.
As Gillian stepped from the car, dust kicked up her skirt, reminding her at once that she could be free here, free to do as she pleased all summer long.
Oh, the sun. The water. She could breathe here. If ever there was a place that drew you in at once, this was it. Smiles, laughter and silly pranks from little boys whisked past her eyes. The mood was electric like a fool’s tonic for the Depression. None of them could help being taken in by it as she, her auntie and uncle and Roderick stood by the car soaking it all in. Streamers made from fishing net with something sparkly dangling from them draped from porch columns to the masts of fishing boats. They made her feel light on her toes. Gillian brushed more dust off her skirt, feeling as though she could drop to the ground and roll in the dirt anyway. She didn’t care. She was just so happy to be here.
As a gust of wind flew past her nose, wind chimes tinkled a summer song. Gillian tried not to notice Roderick sticking his nose up at them, the scowl no doubt meant for her. Still in a huff over their little pact! Never mind. The waft of sugared puff pastry and cinnamon, something Auntie Joyce called elephant ears, teased her mercilessly. It was well worth having to put up with her annoying cousin to be in its wake. Palmiers were always her favorite after all.
Oh yes, Uncle Herbert was perfectly right to fall in love with such a place. Gillian couldn’t help but laugh out loud at absolutely nothing. Even her sundress was laughing in a pretty periwinkle, showing just a hint of cleavage, and her sandals already scuffed. Her hair was fluttering in the breeze, spurring a little action. Time to investigate!
Susan Örnbratt was born in London, Canada and grew up on the dance floor until her brother’s high school rowing crew needed a coxswain. Quickly, she traded in her ballet shoes for a megaphone as rowing filled all of Susan’s time outside of school while competing in regattas across Canada and the US. When she was 16, Susan became a member of the Junior National Rowing Team and went on to compete in the Junior and Senior World Championships and the XIII Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland.
A graduate from the University of Western Ontario in French and the University of Manitoba in elementary education, as well as attending L’Université Blaise Pascal Clermont-Ferrand II in France while she worked as a fille au pair, Susan has gone on to teach and live in six countries.
Although a maple leaf will forever be stitched on her heart, she has called Sweden her home for the past sixteen years with a recent three-year stint in North Carolina, USA for her husband’s work. It was there, where Susan wrote her second and third novels while achieving her long time goal of signing with a publisher for The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley.
Susan lives in Gothenburg with her husband and two children and an apple tree nibbled on by the local moose population. If she isn’t shooing away the beasts, you can find her in her garden with some pruning shears, a good book and always a cup of tea. If Susan were dried out, she could be brewed.
- Title – The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley
- Genre – Historical Women’s Fiction
- ISBN – Paperback: 978-1-61153-111-4 / eBook: 978-1-61153-112-1
- Number of Pages – 329
- Formats – Paperback and ebooks
- Publisher – Light Messages Publishing
- Release Date – April 23, 2015
- Pre-Orders – January 2015
- Advance Review Copies – January 2015
Official Publication Fact Sheet
Copyright © 2014 Susan Örnbratt