Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Have you ever taken a photographic journey through a novel?I guess I'm lucky that I'm a photographer, because this means I can give you a glimpse at my next novel, "Muskoka Maharani", to be published by Penguin Books India. When I say "glimpse", I mean you can really see some of the real-life places where the novel goes.
This first shot (above) is taken at the U Dock of the Delta Sherwood Hotel in Port Carling, Muskoka, which is in the north of the Canadian province of Ontario. This is where an investigative Australian journalist must come in order to save his own career, his job and his way of life. It is here, in the pre-dawn light, that he attempts to interview a close-lipped woman in her eighties. Will she trust him enough to tell him her greatest secret, a revelation that could become the scoop of the year?
As you'll see in the post Booked For Life, my synopsis of the novel is simple and very brief....
The daughter of an embittered, hard-drinking Anglo-Indian engine driver from a little railway colony finally finds love in war-torn England. But it’s 60 years before she breaks her silence on how she helped unmask a German spy, and the aftershock takes an investigative Australian journalist all the way to the Vatican.
He thinks he is doomed and that his critical assignment has come to nothing as he spends a prolonged, uncomfortable silence with the old woman as she photographs and paints the stunning sunrise across the lake.
Eventually - completely unexpectedly - he wins her confidence. She spills out her life story, starting with her childhood in Marsdengunj, a remote Indian railway outpost, her time as a nurse in England during World War II and her eventual move to Canada.
She and the journalist spend hours in the picturesque dining hall of the Delta Sherwood. By the time she draws to the concluding portion of her life, the shadows of the setting sun are long and stark across the eastern lawn.
Among the high and low points of her life are:
- A ghostly eipsode from her teenage years
- Her mother's terrible post-natal depression that was not diagnosed
- The breakdown of her parents' marriage
- The mystery of what eventually happened to her mother
- The teenage love story that seemed so terribly thwarted
- How she found the man of her dreams amid the fear and loss of wartime
- The harrowing retreat of an army officer at Dunkirk
- How grave suspicions surface against a most unlikely person
But before she tells the journalist the last stages of her amazing story, she suggests that he should drive about 35 kilometres to neighbouring Gravenhurst. They come to this intersection .....
The description in the novel of Gravenhurst, a beautiful lakeside hamlet, is exactly as I saw it one afternoon in 2005, while I was photographing the area before taking a lake cruise.
But does the story end in Gravenhurst? No. What happens from this point on? You'll have to read the book to find out.
But now I throw thr forum open to every one of my readers. Now that I've shared this unusual journey with you, I'd be honoured if you could tell me what you think of it. Do leave me a comment with your frank opinion.