Broken Ground is a riveting exploration of the dark, brooding presence of the First World War in the lives of the inhabitants of a "soldier's settlement" on Vancouver Island. From out of a stubborn, desolate landscape studded with tree stumps, the settlers of Portuguese Creek have built a new life for themselves. But when an encroaching forest fire threatens this fledgling settlement, it also intensifies the remembered horrors of war. The story of Portuguese Creek is told by several of its citizens, including a boy trying to recover from the sudden loss of his father and a former teacher haunted by what happened to the soldiers he led in France. With a memorable cast of characters, and by turns heart-rending and tragic, humorous and humane, Broken Ground is a powerful novel that immerses us in the lives of an entire community.
(from the cover of the Emblem edition)
Winner of the Ethel Wilson B.C. Fiction Prize.
click here to read the first page
"Jack Hodgins's latest novel is destined to become an indispensable tool for comprehending this country….At moments when his characters and his landscape are deeply intertwined -- whether moments of horror or lyrical delight -- the results are magical."
"Broken Ground is rich and complex, gradually drawing the reader into its many threads while vividly portraying the Canadian soldiers' experience in the First World War and their subsequent struggle to carve a life out of the wilderness while dealing with the past. This is a finely written fictional history that touches, informs, and makes you think."
Quill & Quire
"Jack Hodgins goes after the hard stuff: precision, honesty, wit, morality and a good, energetic story. Broken Ground might be his best book."
A Sense of Place
"Portuguese Creek" is the name of the creek that runs through several of Jack Hodgins's novels as it does through similar farms in the actual world. Though the community is referred to by the characters as "Portuguese Creek," its official name in the novels is "Waterville." Waterville is based on the real life place of Merville, Vancouver Island. Click here for information about the setting for the Portuguese Creek novels.
For information about the Kootenay Book Weekend where Broken Ground will be the featured novel and Jack Hodgins will be in attendance September 20, 2008, see www.kootenaybookweekend.ca or contact firstname.lastname@example.org