The Toronto Star Feature

 In Reviews & Press

Four new historical fiction reads that entertain, enlighten, transform

New work from Lucy E.M. Black, Jesmyn Ward, Martin Goodman and By Noelle Salazar

By Janet Somerville Special to the Star

Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Brickworks

By Lucy E.M. Black

Now or Never Publishing Co, 301 pages, $19.95

In December 1879 in Scotland, the Tay Bridge collapsed killing all on board the train as it was crossing. That disaster is at the heart of this novel in which fictional protagonist Brodie Hamilton spends a lifetime trying to make amends for his dead father, the conductor of that train.

To distance himself from that tragedy, Brodie adopts his bachelor uncle’s name — becoming Hamish Smith’s heir in the process — and studies bridge building abroad at M.I.T., obsessed with how to make bridges safe while also admiring their beauty.

Hired by Callaghan Steel in Buffalo in 1909, Brodie meets Alistair Lamont, a steel mill agent, who dreams of running a brick business like his father had done back in England. The two men put savings together to invest in riverside land in Braemor, Ontario, where they build a brickworks with the help of local labourers.

A series of fires lead to tragedies that both bond and alienate the friends who, through shared grief, manage to forge a hopeful future.

Read the full article here.