The House at Evelyn’s Pond

Centred around a woman’s voyage to arrange her mother’s funeral, this novel weaves the life stories of three generations of women and their loves.

Ruth is not an easy mother to live up to. Oxford-educated, a pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary during the second world war, she marries a Canadian navigator and returns with him to the family farm in Nova Scotia, where she throws herself into researching his Acadian French ancestors and carving a heritage for her three children. Clever, witty and proud, she keeps resolutely hidden her grief over her own lack of history or family.

Her daughter Jane, a primary school teacher, travels to Europe in the 1960s, and on the Magical Mystery bus tour, meets and marries an Australian dairy farmer. She reflects later: she’d gone to Europe to finish growing up, but she’d married Ian instead and somehow along the way she’d exchanged living up to her mother for living up to her husband. Even Jane’s daughter Megan, a mildly psychic acupuncturist, exudes a self confidence that escapes her mother.

Now, while Megan is hiking Canada’s west coast and falling in love, the recently widowed Ruth returns to England for the first time in fifty years, and dies in her cousin’s home. Jane must fly out from Australia, make the arrangements and return her mother’s ashes to Canada. She will stay with her mother’s cousin outside London, where she had also stayed thirty years earlier on the trip when she met Ian. It is a time for memories and reflections, not all of them comfortable, and this will only intensify when she returns to her mother’s house at Evelyn’s Pond. Alone in her childhood home, surrounded by mementoes of the past, she must face herself and her future in two critical days and nights of discovery and decision.

 

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Reviews:

“A delightful, insightful story,” The Australian Women’s Weekly, September 2001

“Orr deftly weaves the themes of family, migration, identity, history and love,” Australian Bookseller & Publisher, July 2001

“…She has vividly recreated the places and the times that these three women live(d) through.” Good Reading, August 2001

“…. a tale of mothers and daughters, of love and of belonging. The similarities between the generations are poignant echoes of deja vu. The differences between these same generations gives each its own story.
A beautifully written exploration of family and of self.” Sally Murphy; Aussie Book Reviews

“…the literary equivalent to SeaChange” 
”Orr’s own web of narrative, overlapping between past and present, is an engaging story, confidently told and finely crafted.” 
”The House at Evelyn’s Pond holds its own in the company of Tyler and Trollope, and presents a strong foundation for establishing Orr’s own band of loyal readers.” Australian Book Review, December 2001

 

Awards:

Shortlisted for the The Vision Australia Library Award for Adult Audio Book of the Year
 and Adult Narrator of the Year for narrator Stephanie Daniel, 2002 (refers to the Louis Braille Books audio book edition)

 

Wendy’s Comments:

Although many people presume that this book is autobiographical, the truth is that the intersections of my life with Jane’s are geographical rather than personal. Like Jane, I am a Canadian who met an Australian in England, married him and moved to rural Australia. Apart from these broad brush strokes, our lives, our personalities, our families and our husbands, are quite different. READ MORE

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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Dragonfly Song, a novel in free verse and prose of an outcast girl who becomes a bull-leaper in Bronze Age Crete. Read full bio