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A Novel by Keith Henderson
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Everything seems broken in Suzanna Ricci’s life. Only 42, her marriage to Len has disintegrated. Her relationship to their teenage boys, Robin and Logan, is in need of repair. Now her mother, “that martial soul,” wants her to restore the family home in Acqua Sacra, damaged by earthquake. And she doesn’t care how many trips from Montreal to their vivid Italian patria of Abruzzo her daughter has to make.
At least when Len, a dodgy accountant, encourages her to take a job with a Montreal law firm headed by a man named Robert Bliss, Suzanna feels hopeful of being freer of her ex. Until she realizes the crazy cost of disentangling herself, and not just from him or his “associates.”
Old World skepticism kicks at New World concerns in Acqua Sacra, Keith Henderson’s brisk new novel about private deception and public corruption. His cast includes an honest architect, a gutsy office clerk, the modern-day witch of a drained lake, and at least one (reformed) dirt-digging lawyer. But what is Suzanna to do when the mob and their extralegal cross-border political shenanigans invade her life? While Montreal’s underworld seems as full of venomous snakes and mean dogs as the Abruzzo mountains, Roman history, Italian mafiosi, dutiful Canadians, and migrant African workers collide, headlong and bizarrely comedic. At the centre of the crash, stunned and sheep-like, lies Suzanna.
Henderson, the author of The Roof Walkers, again delivers an entertaining and perceptive story in Acqua Sacra about the nature of personal responsibility, this time in an age of multinational delinquency. If Suzanna survives the wreckage, it’ll be by honouring the true meaning of “family” in any global village.
“Thanks to a bizarre scene in which Suzanna is knocked unconscious by a sheep in Italy, the heroine may strike the reader as a metaphor for a world that’s had the wool pulled over its eyes, but, despite itself, is starting to see. Alluding to Psalm 51:8, she muses that things are undoubtedly broken ‘so that they may rejoice, probably in the mending, that small, humble fixing and repair people everywhere had to care about.’ Ultimately, Suzanna’s struggle and apparent misfortune serve as catalysts for new levels of awareness and growth, suggesting that things sometimes need to fall apart before they can be built back up, stronger than before.” – Kimberley Bourgeois, The Montreal Review of Books, Fall, 2016
“Keith Henderson illustrates an unknown Italy. The narrative moves smoothly between Suzanna Ricci’s urban Montreal and her ancestral town in Italy. Acqua Sacra is an exciting read.”
“Acqua Sacra is a compelling book, dealing with both personal and family issues, and more broadly political and commercial issues. Keith Henderson has created a pacey narrative written in the style of a good thriller, which takes in the harrowing effects of divorce, the feelings of failure and their effects on the family, along with Mafia involvement in the Canadian construction industry and all levels of Italian politics and commerce. It deals with corruption at every level and the difficulties of being an honest, caring individual in a world seemingly rotten to the core. An interesting, though sometimes worrying book for anyone who cares about our planet. I thoroughly enjoyed Acqua Sacra and do not hesitate to recommend it.”
— Charles Remington, Readers' Favorite (5 Star Review), March, 2017
Author Keith Henderson
Keith Henderson has published three previous novels, (The Restoration, DC Books, 1994, The Beekeeper, DC Books, 1990, The Roof Walkers, DC Books 2013), a collection of political essays from when he was Quebec columnist for the Financial Post (Staying Canadian, DC Books, 1997), and a prize-winning book of short stories (The Pagan Nuptials of Julia, DC Books, 2006). He led a small provincial political party in Quebec during the separatist referendum of 1995 and championed English language rights and the “poison pill” strategy of partitioning Quebec if ever Quebec partitioned Canada, positions covered in full length articles in the Los Angeles and New York Times as well as on CBS 60 Minutes.
Acqua Sacra, Keith Henderson, 236 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, Novel, November 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-927599-37-2 (paper) . . . $21.95
ISBN: 978-1-927599-38-9 Bound*). . . $36.95
* This book is “perfect bound” with an add-on hand bound cover, no dust jacket.
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Reading | Performance | Acqua Sacra at the Blue Met