Woodstock Reads returns

by | Sep 8, 2023

Beth Powning and her latest novel, ‘A Sister’s Tale,’ set to help launch a return of L.P. Fisher Public Library’s literary celebration

After a prolonged hiatus, the L.P. Fisher Public Library welcomes the triumphant return of Woodstock Reads featuring the latest novel of acclaimed New Brunswick author Beth Powning.

Woodstock library director Jenn Carson said the 2023 Woodstock Reads features Powning’s A Sister’s Tale. She explained the author would attend a special event described as “an evening of books and bites with Beth Powning” on Oct. 19 at the Woodstock Best Western.

Carson explained copies of A Sister’s Tale and the $20 tickets for the Woodstock Reads event are now available at the library and Woodstock town hall.

Library board member Karen Arnold said fellow board members share Carson’s excitement in restoring Woodstock Reads.

Another one excited to see Woodstock Reads and the promotion of literacy return is Catherine Sutherland, a former Woodstock deputy mayor, councillor and the town’s representative on the library board.

Sutherland said the origins of Woodstock Reads date back more than a decade. She said the inspiration hit her while listening to CBC Radio’s long-running annual show Canada Reads, in which five well-known Canadians champion what they believe is an “essential Canadian novel.”

She recalled listening as Terry Fallis’ political satire, Best Laid Plans, won the 2012 Canada Reads title, and thought to herself, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring him to Woodstock?”

Sutherland said she reached out to Fallis, and Woodstock Reads was born.

She said the courteous author agreed to come to Woodstock to help promote the library and literacy.

Sutherland said Fallis agreed to attend Woodstock Middle School to talk to students interested in writing. Unfortunately, heavy fog forced the cancellation of Fallis’ flight to New Brunswick, thus thwarting Woodstock Read’s best-laid plans to welcome the author of ‘Best Laid Plans.’

Although his in-person visit failed, Sutherland said the gracious Fallis arranged to Skype with WMS students, talking to the young aspiring writers over the Internet for a long time.

Sutherland said Woodstock Reads continued for the next few years, bringing acclaimed authors, including Hawkshaw resident Riel Nason and her award-winning ‘The Town That Drowned,’ to town.

However, Sutherland explained, significant changes, growth and challenges at the library forced the board to put Woodstock Reads on the shelf for a few years.

The retirement of long-time director Jon Tait and a major expansion, including the construction and opening of the Thompson Centre, grabbed the board’s focus for a couple of years.

The arrival of the COVID pandemic hindered attempts to rekindle Woodstock Reads for a few more years.

Sutherland is excited to see it finally return this year, as is Carson, who welcomes the participation of Powling, another acclaimed New Brunswick author.

A Sister’s Tale is a national best-selling novel, described on Amazon as “a novel of orphans and widows, terror and hope, and the relationships that hold us together when things fall apart.”

The Sister’s Tale re-introduces characters from Powning’s previously beloved The Sea Captain’s Wife. The New Brunswick-based author published several acclaimed books over the past two-plus decades, including A Measure of Light, The Hatbox Letters, Edge Season, Shadow Child and Home: The Chronicle of a North Country Life.

Carson encourages everyone to drop into the Woodstock library for a copy of A Sister’s Tale and tickets for the special evening with the author while both remain available.

Carson, as the new L.P. Fisher Public Library director, introduced author Corinne Wasilewski and her book ‘Live From The Underground’ at the last Woodstock Reads in 2016. She welcomes the event’s return in 2023.

She said they already have plans for 2024, offering only a teaser of what to expect.

Carson said she can’t provide details but wryly hinted it’s “a non-fiction travel memoir based in Nova Scotia.”

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