The Alder Bed is an intricate, multi-generational family saga filled with secrets and regrets. We meet the Fishers, a minor fish trading family living in a small Newfoundland outport near the turn of the century. In 1914, Captain Ken Fisher dies at sea. Bereft, his fifteen-year-old daughter, Lexie, becomes involved with Dan Connor, local hell-raiser, and becomes pregnant. They marry in 1915, as he prepares to leave for the war. Upon his return, Dan, unable to settle back into his old life, turns to alcohol.
Lexie gives birth to three daughters in quick succession, but, largely abandoned by her husband, frail by nature and beset by painful memories, she suffers a breakdown and is institutionalized. Deprived of their mother’s presence, and without any meaningful parental stability, her daughters grow up estranged from one another, each one harbouring her own tightly-held memories and secrets.
The Alder Bed is a complex story of loss and heartache. By focusing on the women of three generations, and on the man who dominated their lives, it demonstrates the fortitude of women living harsh lives with men either literally absent or emotionally bankrupt. Readers will find this rich, authentic, if disturbing, portrayal of women’s lives in a remote coastal town deeply convincing and entirely captivating, and will race towards the ending as dark secrets are revealed.