Books·Canadian

Creation

Katherine Govier's novel was inspired by naturalist John James Audubon.

Katherine Govier

Running two steps ahead of the bailiff, alternately praised and reviled, John James Audubon set himself the audacious task of drawing, from nature, every bird in North America. The result was his masterpiece, The Birds of America. In June 1833, partway through his mission, he enlisted his son, Captain Bayfield of the Royal Navy, and a party of young gentlemen to set sail for nesting grounds no ornithologist had ever seen, in the treacherous passage between Newfoundland and Labrador. Creation explores the short, stormy summer throughout which the captain became the artist's foil, measuring stick, and the recipient of his long-held secrets. It is an exploration of that fateful expedition, a probing and imaginative narrative that fills in a gap in the visionary naturalist's well-documented life. (From Vintage Canada)

From the book

We do know, sitting as we do in their future, that the great man's son, young Johnny, the one so quick to learn the masts and ropes from the Yankee sailors, will have a wife a few years hence and that this wife will have a child. And that eventually, when the artist and his wife, and all their children are dead, this granddaughter, Maria, will come into possession of his letters and diaries. She will appoint herself keeper of secrets and protector of reputations. And what she reads about her famous grandfather's life, and particularly this summer of 1833, will displease her. She will excise huge portions of the journals. She will publish the bowdlerized version and destroy the original. Letters will be lost, burned, turned into dust.


From Creation by Katherine Govier ©2003. Published by Vintage Canada.

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