Bottle and Glass
Author: Morgan Wade
Title: Bottle and Glass
Trade Paperback: 302 pages – 6 X 9
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The story focuses on two young fishermen from Porthleven, Cornwall pressed into service aboard a Royal Navy frigate. They are forced to leave their native England for Canada and eventually Kingston, where they are stationed as Royal Marines. They spend much of the novel attempting to escape and return home, but by the end, having attained their freedom, they are resolved to stay and make a new life.
Inns and taverns figured prominently in Upper Canada’s frontier life. In 1812, when Kingston had a population of 2250 plus 1500 soldiers, it could boast 78 taverns. Many of these, including “Old King’s Head” and “Mother Cook’s,” are mentioned in the newspapers and correspondence of the time. This novel is structured so that each chapter takes the title of a historic Kingston tavern and each tavern is featured in the chapter in some significant way. The novel’s title is taken from the infamous watering hole, “Violin, Bottle, and Glass.”
“Bottle and Glass is a story of survival and escape told from the barstools of two dozen boisterous Kingston taverns at the close of the War of 1812.”
Bottle and Glass focuses on two young fishermen from Porthleven, Cornwall, England, pressed into service aboard a Royal Navy frigate. They are forced to leave their native England for Canada and eventually Kingston, where they are stationed as Royal Marines.
“Bottle and Glass is a story of survival and escape told from the barstools of two dozen boisterous Kingston taverns at the close of the War of 1812.
Bottle and Glass focuses on two young fishermen from Porthleven, Cornwall, England, pressed into service aboard a Royal Navy frigate. They are forced to leave their native England for Canada and eventually Kingston, where they are stationed as Royal Marines. They spend much of the novel attempting to escape and return home, but by the end, having attained their freedom, they are resolved to stay in Canada and make a new life.
Inns and taverns figured prominently in Upper Canada’s frontier life. In 1812, when Kingston had a population of 2250 plus 1500 soldiers, it could boast 78 taverns. Many of these, including “Old King’s Head” and “Mother Cook’s,” are mentioned in the newspapers and correspondence of the time.
This novel is structured so that each chapter takes the title of a historic Kingston tavern and each tavern is featured in the chapter in some significant way. The novel’s title is taken from the infamous watering hole, “Violin, Bottle, and Glass.
Bottle and Glass, a story of survival and escape set in two dozen boisterous Kingston taverns during the War of 1812, follows the fortunes of Jeremy Castor and his cousin, Merit Davey, two young men snatched from the Cornish coast of England by the Royal Navy in the summer of 1813. A year later, they arrive in Kingston, in Upper Canada, a town tense with the fear and deprivation of war. Paid, spent, and thirsty, their first, riotous night ashore is spent at a tavern, the novel’s namesake, Violin, Bottle, and Glass. On this Saturday night it seems like the entire town is crammed into the two-story clapboard roadhouse. It is thick with spicy bodies, sour tobacco, sweet liquor, and traces of sea-salt.
Each reveler has their own private need. The bos’n’s mate looks to drink something other than lime-leavened rum and he thinks of home. The young seamstress hopes to meet a midshipman and she thinks of away. The board needs a distraction.
Jeremy and Merit meet sixteen-year-old Amelia Barrett, newly and unhappily married to Colonel Noble Spafford, a Peninsular War veteran many decades her senior. When, later that evening, Jeremy stumbles upon a dead man linked to the Colonel, the lives of these three people seeking freedom become bound together forever.”
Bottle and Glass is a highly original adventure story, set during the war of 1812, and framed using real taverns that once existed within the city of Kingston, Ontario. A fascinating study of escape, and a powerful history of 19th century frontier life; Bottle and Glass is a stunning achievement.
– award-winning novelist and poet laureate of Kingston, Ontario,
author of six novels including, ‘Afterimage’,
’ Coventry’, and ‘The Reinvention of Love’.
If you want more info on Helen you can get it here:
“Bottle and Glass is a tantalizing work of fiction anchored in careful historical research. In visceral and muscular prose, Morgan Wade paints a sea-salted and gripping portrait of early nineteenth century English empire on Turtle Island. In his second novel, the master storyteller compels our attention using thoroughly grounded and unromantic brushstrokes that depict early colonial life, with all of its messy and at-times violent implications. Readers will revel in the evocative and palpable descriptions of life at sea under the thumb of the British navy. Wade revels in his command of period English, and his raw talent for paced, fluid writing never disappoints.
“Hobnails clattered against the broad rib of granite-porphyry shaping the moor, resonating through the inn’s foundation, up dry-rotted posts, and along scuffed oak planks. Miniature cat’s paws, a mariner’s telltales, ruffled the surface of swanky-filled mugs.”
This book will be of interest to readers interested in a complex and expansive set of perspectives on a period in which the disorder of early imperialism and war helped birth both new ideas and problems. It will appeal to anyone with a taste for well-crafted descriptions and strong narratives that are conscious of, and attentive to themes of oppression on multiple bases – whether social class, gender or culture – as a function of growing empire. In its spirit and execution, it is reminiscent of Boyden or Atwood’s social consciousness. Best served with something strong, dark and tasty, the novel also functions as an analysis of the role of alcohol in the social history of colonialism. Readers are dared not to get thirsty for more from this gifted author.”
– Educator, musician and poet/essayist from Kingston, Ontario,
with a taste for complex ales and compelling art.
I remember my first encounters with history. Grade Five it would have been and we called it Social Studies. Miss Kolton taught the class. I recall names, places, facts: Alexander the Great, Marco Polo, the Ghengis Khan; Persia, Venice, Mongolia. To tenderize their meat, the armies of the Great Khan would place slices between horse and saddle.
Now, a few decades later, it is a different kind of history that holds my attention. I prefer to leave the big players aside to focus on the minutae, how people lived, what they ate and drank, how they got from one place to another, how they organized their societies, courted, married, raised children. I am a sucker for those BBC shows, the ten-parters that explore every aspect of a Tudor privy.
The same kind of satisfaction comes from reading Morgan Wade’s excellent new novel, Bottle and Glass. Beautifully written, meticulously researched, the novel tells the story of a pair of English cousins, Merit and Jeremy, who have the ill-luck to end up in the garrison town of Kingston, Ontario during the tumultuous days of the War of 1812. Like most immigrants (even the willing ones), they struggle: with uncivilized sailors and soldiers, unscrupulous land owners, Americans, and a large assortment of drunks.
Indeed, as the title suggests, booze plays a big role in the book. In 1814, Kingston was a town of taverns and Wade pays tribute to this legacy by bringing the reader inside a number of them. These are a far cry from your local Kelsey’s, reeking of sweat and tobacco, serving lager and whiskey (in the same tankard), and questionable food.
All of which provides a fascinatingly vivid backdrop to the story of Merit and Jeremy. Their dynamic is the stuff of buddy movies. The goal for both is to get back to their poor Mother, who awaits them on the English moors. But their approaches are different. Merit is pragmatic, more interested in gambling than rocking any boats. His cousin is romantic and driven by a higher kind of morality, even when it may interfere with their ability to escape Canada. When these conflicting values and interests clash, as when Jeremy takes an interest in the young wife of a much older local big shot, the story gets cooking.
No small part of the pleasure of Bottle and Glass comes from Wade’s exquisite attention to historic detail. Every sentence, it seems, contains some small tile of a mosaic that portrays life in this part of Canada in a way that no Heritage Moment could ever hope to achieve. This extends to the language of the characters. More than once, I was reminded of the kind of historic atmosphere created by Margaret Atwood in Alias Grace (also set in Kingston, albeit a generation later).
Bottle and Glass deserves a place in the pantheon of Canadian historic fiction, a sub-genre that has largely ignored that period of our colonization. No longer, thanks to Morgan Wade.
– Toronto-based writer.
From Cornwall, England to Kingston, Ontario, Bottle and Glass takes the reader on an exciting, sometimes violent, but always realistic journey. Set in the early nineteenth century, the story involves two young men, suddenly uprooted from their homes and taken thousands of miles away. Much hardship, intrigue, and miscarriage of justice ensue, leavened with courage and romance; fidelity and friendship are tested. The author does a masterful job of engaging the reader, through his wonderful descriptions and period language, reminiscent of Patrick O’Brian and Bernard Cornwell. A rollicking read!
– author of five novels including,
‘A Cuban Death’ and ‘Whirlwind’
If, like me, you read historical fiction because we lack time-travel machines, you will devour Morgan Wade’s Bottle and Glass. Here’s a round-trip ticket to the War of 1812 as Canadians, kidnapped—a.k.a. “impressed”—recruits, and their wives and mothers experienced it. You’ll despair with the hero as the Crown’s officers rip him and his cousin from their family, lie sleepless with them in their hammocks aboard ship, feel their desperate hunger and thirst—for this utterly realistic novel reminds us that victuals were scanty or altogether absent for earlier generations—, taste the alcohol that drowns their many miseries, pine with them for home. Disdaining to romanticize the past, Bottle and Glass instead dramatizes the fears, disasters and petty struggles for survival when an empire’s war ensnares the innocent—and the love that vanquishes such daunting hardships.
– Author of ‘Halestorm’
and ‘Abducting Arnold’
“Bottle and Glass is a fascinating story of adventure at sea, life in early Canada and the struggle for humanity. Wade writes a story that is sympathetic, historically compelling and has both local and universal appeal. Bottle and Glass left me both satisfied and edified.”
– author of Gravity, The Book of Trees,
and Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust