The Bittlemores by Jann Arden (November 2023)
A heartfelt, comic, and deeply satisfying debut novel from the #1 bestselling author, singer-songwriter, member of Canada’s Music Hall of Fame and star of her own hit TV sitcom. A little bit All Creatures Great and Small, a little bit Fargo and all Jann Arden!On mean Harp Bittlemore’s blighted farm, hidden away in the Backhills, nothing has gone right for a very long time. Crops don’t grow, the pigs and chickens stay skinny and the three aged dairy cows, Berle, Crilla and Dally, are so desperate they are plotting an escape. The one thing holding them back is the thought of abandoning young Willa, the single bright point in their life since her older sister, Margaret, ran away. But Willa Bittlemore, just turning 14, is planning her own rebellion. Something doesn’t add up in the story she’s been told about her missing sister, and she’s beginning to question if her horrible parents are even her parents at all. Just as things are really coming to a head, a bright young police officer starts investigating a cold case involving a baby stolen from a little rural hospital 28 years earlier, and Willa and the cows find out exactly how far the Bittlemores will go to protect a festering secret. Written with Jann’s trademark outrageous humour and full of her down-to-earth wisdom, The Bittlemores is a rural fairytale, a coming-of-age story and a prairie mystery all-in-one, saturated with her observations of the world she grew up in and her deep connection to the animals we exploit. This marvel of a first novel digs into how people come to be so cruel, but it also glories in the miracle of human kindness.