Returning to her childhood home on Mikinaak Island after a twenty year absence, Mina McInnis unravels the incidents that caused her family's disintegration. She is determined to uncover the truth about the tragedy from her past, and the presence that dwells in the cold, dark waters of Lake Huron.
About the author
Originally from Manitoulin Island, Jennifer Farquhar lives in Kitchener, Ontario where she is an elementary school teacher and mother of three young children. Her short stories have won awards in the Manitoulin Expositor and the Toronto Star. Watermark is her debut novel.
Excerpt: Watermark (by (author) Jennifer Farquhar)
Leaving Toronto, 1994
We drive the seven hours to Mikinaak Island in near silence,watching the landscape stumble backwards in time. Walmartsmake way for crippled A&Ps, grocery stores decamp and leave theirgeneral store cousins to man the roads, then general stores abandonthe scene and all that is left is a boarded up gas station that hasn'twhiffed a drop of fuel since Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister.Paved roads wither into gravel nuisances that ping a hailstormagainst the chassis of the car, and the Escort is now sullied by finewhite dust. By the time I spot the swing bridge that links Mikinaakto the mainland, it seems conceivable that the five-dollar bill in mypocket could purchase a couple of steak dinners and malt shakes atthe local diner. Not that I have an appetite.
The bridge, however, looks newer than I remembered it, moresecure. Eighty meters of metal beams saluting the sky, reinforcedsteel girders signaling its capacity to bear great loads. Nine hundredtons of wasted reassurance for a limnophobic like me. I am gratefulto be in the driver's seat, despite Zane's insistence that he candrive, should drive to practice for his road test. Because the task offocusing on the road in front of me is a much-needed distractionfrom the water.
When I learned I had inherited the island house from mymother, my first instinct was to burn it to the ground. I even wentso far as to think up an accomplice. Surely that fish-mutilatorTubby McCallister had spawned a new generation of grubby littlecriminals by now. But in the end, I spent money I didn't have ona cleaning crew to look after the task of ridding the house of itsmemories, and the unfortunate life of a broken woman.
Then I contacted a realtor, and my family home has sat on themarket ever since.
I brought up the topic of the house as Zane was tending to hischili pepper plants which I had failed to water the previous weekwhile he was in the hospital.
"I have some bad news for you, Zane. We need to move again."
Momsidius, Momosa, Mombabwe. I hadn't realized how muchZane's nicknames meant to me until recently, when they had begunto fade from his speech. Except Marines. That one I wasn't so keenon, which he knew.
"I'm so sorry this is happening again, Zaner."
Zane looked up, his earnest grey eyes locking on mine, and Iglimpsed the sensitive little boy who scarcely showed himselfanymore. My arms ached to reach out and take him in an embrace, tosomehow grasp onto the sweet side of my son before it disappearedagain behind his quiet, pensive exterior.
"Don't sweat it, Madre. Who knows, maybe Medica goingunder will turn out to be the best thing that could've happened toyou. I bet you'll land a new editing gig any day now. Or maybe thisis the push you need to bust out of the science copywriting ghetto.
You could try publishing those stories you're always working awayon at night--the ones you never let me read?"
"Jennifer Farquhar casts her intricately woven narrative net into the cold northern waters of Lake Huron and captures for the lucky reader a richly detailed story alive with mysteries, secrets, and hard-won home truths. Once you've crossed the bridge to Mikinaak Island in the company of Watermark's brave, bedevilled heroine, you won't be able to leave."
- Terry Griggs, The Discovery of Honey
"Watermark is a compelling, beautifully rendered portrait of island life, where deeply held family secrets intertwine with local lore and the past runs in step with the present. A gripping narrative of family love, loss and regeneration, Watermark will enthrall readers right up to the final page."
- Emily Urquhart, Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes
"Coloured with ghost stories and gothic elements, Jennifer Farquhar's Watermark unspools an intriguing family tragedy set in the richly detailed terrain of a Northern Ontario island. With evocative descriptions of the local terrain and traditions, the novel deeply examines the interplay between ancient and settler cultures through one woman's journey to come to terms with her past and find her true home. This story moves like waves on the long Lake Huron shoreline, building in intensity until its final satisfying end."
- Lauren Carter, Swarm
"In this beautiful and haunting story of family secrets, tragic loss, and renewal, Jennifer Farquhar's gutsy heroine charts murky waters seeped in myth and local legend, with a clear and unforgettable voice."
- Nina Berkhout, The Mosaic
"...the suspense of so many secrets being withheld and the subtle implications of something sinister in the waters of Lake Huron are worthy of the best Stephen King novel."
- The Miramichi Reader
"Those who have made the journey home, who have felt loss and renewal, or who are especially nostalgic for life in the 1970s, and particularly enjoying the beauty and wonder of Manitoulin Island, will enjoy this story from beginning to end. Jennifer Farquhar is a masterful storyteller who will take you on a wavy ride."
- The Manitoulin Expositor