I’m sorry to say that one of the best books I’ve read recently is a book I won’t be able to recommend to you — not because you wouldn’t enjoy it, but because you might have a hard time getting your hands on it. The Dragon’s Song is a limited-edition art book from novelist Bernice Morgan and her daughter, printmaker Jennifer Morgan. Bernice’s novella, her first published story since 2008’s Cloud of Bone, is illustrated by Jennifer’s woodcut engravings. I’m related to both author and illustrator so I got to go to the launch and get a copy, and while I believe this limited-edition, rather expensive release is appropriate for such a lovely and beautifully-illustrated piece of work, it does make me sad to realize that this story won’t reach the thousands of readers who would love to read another Bernice Morgan tale.
The novella opens with an old woman in Coley’s Point, Newfoundland, trying to adapt to widowhood after the death of her minister husband. Though neighbours and friends only know her as a quiet, white-haired old lady, Dora Mercer has a past life they don’t suspect. As a newlywed she accompanied her husband to China, where they served as missionaries. What happened there still haunts her a lifetime later, and “haunting,” along with “beautiful,” are the words that best describe this story and its accompanying illustrations for me. If you do get a chance to read it, don’t hesitate!
The Dragon’s Song is available, while copies last, from the publisher, Running the Goat Books and Broadsides, at a price that reflects the fact that it is a work art.