A very special family photograph and story now of two sisters. Author Susan Toy has many reasons to be thankful for her supportive older sister, not least for home-baked oatmeal cookies.
About Susan M. Toy
Susan M. Toy has been a bookseller, an award-winning publishing sales representative, a literacy teacher, and is a tireless promoter of fellow authors and their books. She’s also an author and publisher, under the imprints, IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts, and has published eBooks written by other authors, as well as two novels and a novella of her own. Susan shares her time between a verandah on the island of Bequia in the Caribbean and the deck of a trailer near the eastern shore of Lake Huron in Canada.
Two sisters at Barry’s Farm near South Lake at Minden, ON by Susan M. Toy
This is a photo of me with my older sister, Betty, taken in 1955, so I was 2 at the time and she would have been 14. We were visiting Barry’s farm close to our cottage on South Lake at Minden, ON.
Our parents had bought the cottage the year I was born and I spent every summer there until I was 16 or so. Betty, being that much older, was already entering high school by this time, so I don’t remember much about her from the late 50s. After high school, she went to nursing college then met and married Martin when I was 11. Theirs was the only wedding for which I was ever a bridesmaid. And it was a great wedding, too! We still have all the old home movies Dad shot that day. And movies from summers at the cottage when Betty and Martin would visit.
They led busy lives, as a nurse and policeman, especially working shifts and holidays, so we saw them even less. Until Betty gave birth to the family’s first grandchild/great-grandchild, and then we saw them a lot, especially at family gatherings. I was in Grade 13 by that time, and babysat for them often, but went away to university in September of 1972, so saw my sister less again. She gave me my first cookbook though, which I still have, and a yogurt maker (also still have and used it again just yesterday), and while I was at school she would send me packages of her home-baked oatmeal cookies that I loved. I hoarded those cookies in my residence room, eating slowly and savouring them.
I met Dennis during that time, and moved West after graduation, so we only saw our families when we made the long trek back East or they came to visit us.
Fast forward a few decades and I now see my older sister a great deal more. After our parents died, Betty became the “matriarch,” as we jokingly referred to her, but also was the keeper of family memories, because she had been around longer before I was born, and knew the various connections on both the Canadian and Belgian sides of the family.
She’s also the glue attempting to keep us, including our other two siblings and various long-lost cousins, together. Betty and Martin have both been a big help to Dennis and me these past years in giving advice on purchasing a used car and trailer and helping to make my transition back into Canada every half year much easier. They’ve financially sponsored the print editions of my novels, and have read and enjoyed everything I’ve written.
They recently celebrated their 52nd anniversary, and I still remember that as being the best wedding I ever attended in my life.
But best of all is I know that, 62 years later and just as in this photo, my big sister still has my back! Thanks, Betty!
About One Woman’s Island
Running away from Canada, Mariana hopes to forget a failed marriage and the death of her husband by embarking on a whole new life. She moves lock, stock, and two cats to the small Caribbean island of Bequia. But the move brings more than she could have imagined. New friends ask her to help solve a recent murder in the expat community. And then there’s the problem of her neighbours, a young woman and her children. Seemingly abandoned by family and friends, Mariana believes they need her help!
By becoming involved, Mariana is carried along from wanting to simply “live with the locals” to being overwhelmed by their culture, one so vastly different to what she had left behind in Canada that she doesn’t know who among her expat friends she can turn to for advice. So she carries on regardless and discovers that Bequia isn’t exactly the tropical paradise it had promised to be.
One Woman’s Island is the second novel in the Bequia Perspectives series that picks up again a few months in time after the first novel, Island in the Clouds.
A recent review for One Woman’s Island
I received “One Woman’s Island,” part of a collection of e-books as a New Year’s gift from a nice lady-friend, who is aware of my Wanderlust and my partiality for cross-over genre novels.
First, the setting captured my attention. I had never heard of the Caribbean island, Bequia. Having traveled extensively in my younger years, I noticed with pleasure that the exotic background of Susan Toy’s tale is not sugar-coated, but deftly rendered with a keen eye for the daily lives of the locals in this “tropical paradise” (which turns out to be no paradise at all) and a fabulous ear for Caribbean dialects. Toy’s style is fluent, yet at the same time delightfully willful. That’s one of the features that makes “One Woman’s Island” stand out against many other thrillers.
There is a taut plot – quickly moving forward – and for sure enough excitement, but the atmospheric aspects of the novel are more important to me, being a lover of literary suspense novels I particularly like the way Toy describes how expats and locals treat each other. The stubborn involvement of the main character, Mariana – who is seeking emotional refuge after a cold marriage and the death of her husband – when she encounters the violence hidden underneath the beauty of the island, is at the same time endearing and frustrating. As well as trying to solve a murder, Mariana takes her neighbors, a child-mother and her children, under her wings, but she is powerless, in spite of all her efforts, to counter the deep-rooted ancient ways of the locals, when things get rough.
The characters are not always what they seem to be, and more than often they surprise the reader. In spite of the fluid readability of the novel, there is much going on under the surface. In my eyes, this is an important feature that separates a good novel from a mediocre one. By the way, I’m a great lover of Caribbean food, and I thought it an original idea of Susan Toy to incorporate local recipes into the novel. First, you frown, then you think, My, that sounds delicious, and then you wonder if you could cook it yourself. Conclusion: a surprising novel that leaves the well-trodden path of so many thrillers….
Also by Susan M. Toy
Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Toy/e/B008WXIJ46
Connect to Susan via her blogs: http://islandeditions.wordpress.com/
My thanks to Susan for sharing this lovely post about her family and please show your appreciation by sending off around the Internet.. Thanks Sally