Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #FamilySaga Trillium by Margaret Lindsay Holton


I would like to welcome Margaret Lindsay Holton to the Cafe and Bookstore with her sweeping family saga Trillium which begins in the 1750s which was published in late 2018.

About the book

Insightful, compelling, engrossing and enlightening, TRILLIUM intimately portrays the intertwining evolution of three very distinct families in the wine-making region known as Niagara in the Golden Horseshoe region, Ontario, Canada. …It all starts when 19-year-old Tom Hartford crosses over the mighty Niagara River in the 1750s … Readers will meet Maaka, an ingenious indigenous trapper; Franco, a dirt poor Sicilian labourer; Paddy O’Sullivan, a sweet-talking Irish con-artist and sweet Cate, the Hamilton port prostitute. And that’s just the beginning!

All unfolds with a pair of motherless red-headed twin brothers, a diabolical hate-filled drunkard, two devoted raven-haired sisters, an obsessed land developer, hard-working Mexicans, a blind man, a handsome Italian-Canadian wine-maker, a blessed treasure trove of attentive mothers, one demented vineyard-wandering wife – and a startlingly beautiful, simpleton savant, Anna. A 250 year-old story about three families: the good, bad … and ugly.

One of the reviews for the book

A sweeping, multi-generational, multi-family saga, Trillium tells the story of the European settlement and development of the Canadian lands bordering Lake Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula in particular.

Many more decades ago than I like to admit, in my final year of high school I took a locally-developed history course focused on exactly the same time period as the first section of Trillium, and even covered some of the same historical characters that are interwoven in the fictional story here. The book took me back to that course, my second-favourite in all my high school courses.

For readers interested in the details of this area, from the names of personalities behind towns such as Beamsville, or the vagaries of technological advances that left Ancaster and Dundas as sleepy towns compared to Hamilton’s industrial bustle (I’ve canoed the vestiges of the Desjardin Canal many times) Trillium is a wealth of detail and research framing the fortunes of three fictional families. In its early stages, it is primarily a story told, not fully shown, but that is true of many historical sagas.

Characterization in the first sections – ‘Seeds’ – of the book is perhaps a weak facet of Trillium, characters are to some extent place-holders establishing the foci and purpose of the three families. Again, the same could be said of other sweeping tales, such as London and Sarum by Edward Rutherford. The subtlety and space needed to fully round out characters in a story of this scope, especially in its early stages, may be beyond its mandate.

But as Trillium approached the modern day – and perhaps the years experienced rather than researched by the author – the story comes alive. As the stories of the three families entwine through friendship and employment and marriage, pressures both external and internal create conflict, and the focus shifts more to personalities. The tone of the narrative changes, too, the themes become more adult and more fully described, the author reflecting, perhaps, the increasing freedom and changing behavior of the post WWII years.

It is obvious that the author knows the geography and history – both political and social – of the Niagara Peninsula well, and her deeply appreciative eye shines through. Recommended for anyone wishing to better understand the long European settlement history of this area, a district of rich agricultural bounty fast disappearing under the demands of housing and transportation. One consideration: reading the first sections of the book might suggest it is suitable for a skilled young adult reader, but adult themes and descriptions in late sections might also suggest otherwise.

Read the reviews and buy the book: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

A selection of books by Margaret Lindsay Holton

Read the reviews and buy the books: Amazon US

And: Amazon UK

Read more reviews and follow Margaret: Goodreads

About Margaret Lindsay Holton extract from Wikipedia

Margaret Lindsay Holton is a Canadian artist primarily known for her ‘naive-surreal-folk-abstracts’ oil and acrylic paintings, pinhole photography, short documentary film productions, poetry and literary novel works.

Holton is the winner of the K.W. Irmisch ‘Arts Person of the Year’ Award in 2016 from the City of Burlington. In 2018, she received the Alumni of Influence award by University College, University of Toronto and was nominated for the Premier of Ontario Arts Award.

Holton studied English Literature at the University of Toronto, and produced her first written works in the 1980s. She began her first novel, Economic Sex, while working as an English tutor in Spain in 1984. This literary work was published by Coach House Press of Toronto, under pen-name, Ali Janna Whyte, in 1985.

She produced and edited ‘The Spirit of Toronto: 1934-1984′, a compendium of essays by religious leaders of 45 different faiths highlighting multiculturalism in Toronto. Launched at Fort York, a hard copy was presented to the Pope’s personal secretary.

Holton registered her artist’s press, Acorn Press Canada,[13] in Ontario, in 1997. As a writing artist, she published her second novel, The Gilded Beaver by Anonymous, (1999), as well as two books of poetry, On Top of Mount Nemo (2002), and Bush Chord, (2006, with an e-edition in 2012) under her artists’ imprint. The Gilded Beaver by Anonymous novel won the Hamilton Arts Council[14] ‘Best Fiction Award’ in 1999. Her third novel, and Finalist for the Hamilton Book Awards, TRILLIUM, was first released in October of 2018.’

Fine Furniture Design & Construction

Holton apprenticed with her father, the late Luther Janna Holton (1922-2002), cabinetmaker and sole-proprietor of Holton Fine Furniture of Hamilton before going into business for herself in 1986 as a Canadian fine furniture designer in Toronto under ‘MLH Productions’.

Her furniture works can be found in national public and international private collections, including the Royal Ontario Museum, (curio box & display cabinets), the Canadian Film Centre, (library reception), Stanley Ho of Hong Kong (bedroom & dining room suite), David C.W. MacDonald of Toronto (‘Temagami’ pedestals, ‘Wolf Settee Courting Bench’ & ‘Thee Mirror), Rosamond Ivey of Toronto (bedroom suite) and Elizabeth Hanson of Toronto (children beds).

Connect to Margaret.

Facebook Trillium Novel
Twitter @TRILLIUMnovel
Facebook Author/Artist fan page Margaret Lindsay Holton

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope  that you will explore Trillium and Margaret’s other books further. Some books are now out of print but there are used available as well as an E-version of Bush Chord. Thanks Sally.