The Grimsby Author Series is officially back for another stimulating spring season! As the Series is now being brought virtually to viewers over Zoom, authors are able to join from their home offices from anywhere in the world. This appealing feature will be noticed throughout upcoming events. However, for this evening’s stream we were joined locally by authors Jesse Thistle (From the Ashes) and Jennifer Robson (Our Darkest Night) who articulate the many sides of survival, perseverance and connection.
Jesse Thistle joins the author series with From the Ashes, which arrived on shelves in August 2019. Since its premier, Thistle has been moving through the obligations of a new bestselling author from attending events and readings while continuing his work as an assistant professor, Ph.D. candidate and advocate. Truly grounded to the earth, he wears lavender around his neck during events and connects to nature with a daily ten-kilometre walk. Jesse refers to himself as an accidental author having been offered a book contract following an article about him in the Toronto Star. Appearing incredibly humble, his writing is anything but; he acknowledges the responsibility of creating his own situations and writes with openness and clarity in this memoir of resilience.
From the Ashes feels like a flowing narrative as in story after story we glimpse the moments that shaped Thistle. This is a collection of forty-four years captured in a mere 384 pages. In these pages, the reader joins Jesse through abandonment, the foster-care system, a clash with austere grandparents, addiction, homelessness and self-destruction. As Metis-Cree-Scot, he brings his powerful Indigenous heritage to the forefront of his story. Though it was not at all the case in his pursuits growing up, his identity was the key to him moving through his addiction. His perseverance deepened with the help of many and in acknowledging his journey he relays this message to Indigenous youth: “You are loved.” Jesse Thistle is currently working on his second work about his uncle who lived as a professional bank robber.
Jennifer Robson is a bestselling author of historical fiction set during and after the world wars. Our Darkest Night: A Novel of Italy and the Second World War is her sixth novel. What brings the balance of depravity and courage to life is Robson’s ability to capture an ordinary moment, “You can close your eyes and imagine what the air smells like…know the taste of their limited food and the state of hunger…” thus crafting tender moments and the trauma of war. The main protagonist, Antonina, was presented to Robson which led to the development of the novel’s relationships and her setting. Our Darkest Night paints the world of Antonina, sent with the hope to survive by fleeing Venice now occupied by Nazi Germany, to the countryside. Nina must leave her Italian Jewish family and pose as the bride of Nico, a proper man forced from the seminary to run his family’s farm. Hope, love and courage guide their journey together as they try to convince suspicious officials of their affection. Soon, the bond of survival turns to flares of true love.
Jennifer Robson expressed, “It is in the complicated grey areas where the true and deep stories lie.” Our Darkest Hour is more than historical fiction that displays the complexities of another time, it is inspired by true events. Robson encourages people to listen to the voices of those who endured this period because, “we are losing them along with their knowledge and their memories.” Currently, she is writing another work that focuses on the lives of ordinary people who get caught up in the extraordinary during the post-war era.
Thank you to Jesse Thistle and Jennifer Robson for safely joining the Grimsby Author Series from their homes, allowing each event to be accessible to so many. We are honoured to be sponsored this evening by Malivoire Wine Company, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Objects to Desire. A big thank you to Epic Books of Hamilton who will have signed copies of From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle and Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson available. Our next event will take place on April 19th and tickets are now available.
This blog post was written by our wonderful guest blogger Teanne Teeft, thanks Teanne!
Our next event
Mary Lawson and Robert Rotenberg
Monday, April 19 at 7 p.m. via Zoom webinar
Tickets now on sale / $10 per person
Enjoy a Zoom Webinar with critically acclaimed authors Mary Lawson and Robert Rotenberg. They’ll be discussing their latest novels and taking questions from the audience.
This event features: