Fifteen years ago, Willow Alexander was jilted at the altar by her high school sweetheart, Graham Currie, who left their wedding rehearsal the night before knowing he would not be returning the next day.
Confused and devastated, Willow remains in the small town of Glenmor in Cape Breton, caring for her ailing parents and nursing her heartache. What no one knows is that Willow lost more than her marriage on that shocking day, which is why she remains on her family’s expansive property, in the shadow of Christy’s Mountain, unable to let go of the secret she has kept hidden for more than a decade.
Soon after her fortieth birthday, Willow finds out that Graham is returning to town, without his new wife, after years of working as a doctor in New York City. As Willow grapples with her emotions, wondering how she will deal with Graham’s arrival, tragedy strikes again: her dear friend, Kathleen, and her husband, local doctor James Millhouse, are found dead. Willow was the last one to see the couple on the night they died and fears that she may have accidently had a hand in their deaths.
Fearing both Graham’s return and her own imminent arrest, Willow holes up in her family home, reflecting on her past and bracing for her uncertain future. The Girl He Left Behind is a moving story about how confronting life’s greatest uncertainties is often the only way forward.
“An eloquent story, profound and lyrical… MacNeil’s characters are imaginative and well realized, while the novel makes an effortless full circle.” - Publishers Weekly
“The Geranium Window is a novel to be treasured for both its profound psychological and philosophical insights and for the sheer beauty of MacNeil’s writing.”
“Keeper of Tides is a remarkable novel that shines an important light on the challenges of dementia, the destructive power of childhood trauma and the healing effect of friendship.It also hits on an oft-forgotten truth: that within each mother, father, friend or enemy, there s a vibrant past that has made them who they are a history full of old loves, treasured friendships, regret and hope.” - The Chronicle Herald
“Beatrice MacNeil has a brilliant insight into the souls of the wounded. This is a splendid novel.”
“If you favour a gratifying and engrossing story with a balance of tragedy and happiness, then you will enjoy The Geranium Window“
“Beatrice MacNeil’s writing resembles painting, a beautifully textured, wondrously detailed painting, of absorbing incidents and characters so real and fresh that you feel you could turn a corner and bump into them in the midst of a quarrel, a cursing, a prayer, a kiss. MacNeil’s Cape Breton is a seductive, mysterious, pastoral, strange, Gothic, and violent redoubt of illicit lusts and proud blasphemies, magical faith and redemptive love.”
“[M]agnificent…MacNeil’s novel provides a wonderful insight into personal fear and personal tragedy. It shows how war can deny a future; yet despite the interlude of sorrow the novel so well describes, there is still hope. This is clearly an award-winning novel, one which deserves a wide circulation. No review of this length could do justice to its power and profundity.”
“Themes of love and sexuality, loss and aging will generate lively book club discussions. Lyrical, moving and deeply touching, Beatrice MacNeil has created a character brimming with love and loss.”
“Beatrice MacNeil has written a wonderful book, heartwrenching in its story and lyrically beautiful in its telling…Her vivid and original descriptions, her poetic metaphors and similes, and the graceful cadences of her sentences all remind us of the great pleasure to be had in the reading of finely crafted prose.” - The Globe and Mail