In my novel Nearly Canaan, Joshua and Jaya settle into a place unlike anything they would have imagined. It’s desert, for one thing, where nearly everything has to be irrigated, for another. Quite simply, it’s a lot like Yakima, in the middle of Washington state and an agricultural mecca.
Besides the well-known crops of apples, hops, and grapes, let’s consider:
My newest book, Nearly Canaan, is a thorough reworking of three earlier novels that now flow together as one.
Here are ten reasons the new version is new and improved.
The book now focuses on the question of what impact one person can make for lasting good in our world, especially in and through our closest relationships.
Jaya’s professional identity in her pioneering approach to nonprofits administration is quickly and more clearly established. Her career and its demands become a source of major conflict in the course of the story.
Her character now grows out of her role in Yoga Bootcamp, which provides further understanding of her motivations and inner direction.
The actions now show that the best intentions may have unanticipated negative consequences.
Jaya’s desire to find an appropriate way of personally expressing her spiritual experiences finally creates a unique artform.
Events are no longer left hanging at the end of what was the first novel. Life moves on in the aftermath of disaster.
The overall work is now structured within three large, overarching sections, each presented by a different teller. The first one, focusing on Jaya, is comprised of three telescoping parts that propel the action to the distinctive landscape where the second and third sections also take place. The second section is told by one of Jaya’s yoga students while the third is told by a young wife who’s been a close neighbor. Each of them reveals details unknown to most of the other characters in their social circle.
The story now has a short fourth section as a coda. I’m especially fond of it.
Once again, changing some of the names of characters makes a huge difference, especially when that leads to fond nicknames. Just see what happens to Jaya’s beau, especially.
I have far more sympathy for Jaya’s husband’s situation, even if it’s what he pressed so hard to find himself in.
I’ve lived here for 20 years now, and worshiped here for another dozen.
Dover is the seventh oldest permanent settlement in the U.S. – and the oldest in New Hampshire. We’re preparing for its 400th anniversary in 2023. Did I mention I love history? We’re surrounded by it.
We’re also close to the ocean in one direction and mountains in the other.
Here are ten more things I appreciate.
Right size. With 30,000 population, it has a small-town feel. We can stroll to a viable downtown from our house, have a drink or dinner if we wish, or just up the block to the bank or around the corner to the drugstore. That sort of thing. Even walk to Meeting on Sunday.
Speaking of walking. The Community Trail, tucked in behind backyards and sometimes along the river, is a gem.
Quaker Meeting. We’re the fifth oldest church in the state, and the first that wasn’t part of the government-backed Congregational denomination. First Parish, meanwhile, was the first congregation in the entire colony. It has an incredible organ.
Greek-Orthodox. Its members have been an important part of the community for more than a century now, as I’ve been learning. The annual festival every Labor Day weekend is a blast.
Ecumenical engagement. The twice-a-week soup kitchen the local churches provide is only part of the action. Immigrant sanctuary movement support has been extraordinary.
The indoor swimming pool. For a senior like me, it’s a bargain. The locker room is tucked in under the children’s museum, which Dover lured away from Portsmouth, itself a reason to be proud to live in town. Oh, yes, let’s include the 50-meter outdoor pool at this point.
Our hospital. It’s now a subsidiary of esteemed Mass. General, rather than being taken over by a for-profit corporation. Again, as a senior, top-flight medical access is a prime consideration. It’s within walking distance, too.
The waterfall in the heart of downtown. It’s a pleasure to watch, along with the tide level below. There was nothing like this in the part of Ohio where I grew up.
Proximity to the state university. Many of its students rent apartments here, and the school runs a regular public bus service through the region. Concerts, lectures, sports events, and the library are a plus. You should know hockey is hot here.
Access to Boston. A comfy bus service to Logan airport and South Station runs hourly, and Amtrak’s Downeaster links to North Station with five trains each way daily. Apart from a small spur to the shipyard through Portsmouth, all of the railroad traffic to and from Maine passes within a block of our house. You can take the Downeaster in the other direction to Old Orchard Beach or Portland or even Freeport, home of L.L. Bean, if you wish. Riding the train’s fun.
What do you treasure about the place where you live?