A heartfelt, comic, and deeply satisfying debut novel from the #1 bestselling author, singer-songwriter, member of Canada's Music Hall of Fame and star of her own hit TV sitcom. A little bit All Creatures Great and Small, a little bit Fargo and all Jann Arden!
On mean Harp Bittlemore’s blighted farm, hidden away in the Backhills, nothing has gone right for a very long time. Crops don’t grow, the pigs and chickens stay skinny and the three aged dairy cows, Berle, Crilla and Dally, are so desperate they are plotting an escape. The one thing holding them back is the thought of abandoning young Willa, the single bright point in their life since her older sister, Margaret, ran away.
But Willa Bittlemore, just turning 14, is planning her own rebellion. Something doesn’t add up in the story she’s been told about her missing sister, and she's beginning to question if her horrible parents are even her parents at all. Just as things are really coming to a head, a bright young police officer starts investigating a cold case involving a baby stolen from a little rural hospital 28 years earlier, and Willa and the cows find out exactly how far the Bittlemores will go to protect a festering secret.
Written with Jann’s trademark outrageous humour and full of her down-to-earth wisdom, The Bittlemores is a rural fairytale, a coming-of-age story and a prairie mystery all-in-one, saturated with her observations of the world she grew up in and her deep connection to the animals we exploit. This marvel of a first novel digs into how people come to be so cruel, but it also glories in the miracle of human kindness.
About the author
Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and one of Canada`s most precious resources, recording artist Jann Arden is the winner of eight Junos (including the 2002 Juno for "Best Songwriter"), and a substantial collection of other awards and honours. She is also an avid painter, philanthropist and multi-dimensional performer, having appeared in The Vagina Monologues, a feature film and at the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. With record sales in the millions from her seven CDs (that includes fourteen top ten singles), Jann`s eighth CD will be released in early 2005. Jann currently resides outside of Calgary, Alberta.
“Get ready to add this novel to your canon of beloved growing-up tales, because if there’s anyone who can take on the vulnerability and determination of the young adult years with a perfect combination of heart and humour, it’s our national treasure, Jann Arden.” —Canadian Living
“Arden’s take on poverty, alcoholism and the long-term impact of neglect, isolation and abuse occasionally recalls the work of Southern Gothic writer Flannery O’Connor or New Brunswick’s David Adams Richards. On the other hand, it is also comical. It has an endearing coming-of-age story at its centre, told in snappy first-person narration by a wise-beyond-her-years 14-year-old girl named Willa.” —Calgary Herald
“Jann Arden’s stunning debut novel, The Bittlemores, is the story of a family farm in the Backhills of Canada. Told through the generations, and full of struggle, secrets and brutality, one shining light emerges through the darkness. Willa is 14, at a crossroads and full of questions. Her coming of age is part mystery and suspense, but always heartfelt and real. There is humor, and a longing beneath the pain, as Willa hopes to build a life worth living on her own terms. With grace notes from classic literature, animals talk and scheme, children are empowered by their own questions, and forgiveness is the seed of a new way of life. This is great storytelling from a glorious master craftsman.” —Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and The Good Left Undone