Although The Seeds of Sorrow is the sequel to Lisa Brown’s first book entitled The Porter’s Wife, it is a stand alone book and you do not have to read the first book in the series to understand this novel.
We are introduced to Agnes Berry on her wedding day in 1919. She is surrounded by her friends and family and could not be happier to be marrying the love of her life, Art Craig. As a gift from Agnes’ parents, Agnes and Art have a dream honeymoon in Winnepeg’s finest hotel. But on the first night of their life together, Art has a terrible nightmare, and in a fit of thrashing around, he accidentally gives his new bride a black eye.
We come to understand that Art is a veteran of World War I and sleep eludes him as he cannot shake the horrible memories of the trenches and the deaths of his friends. Agnes is an inspirational heroine as she tries to be as supportive as possible without embarrassing him or pushing Art too hard to talk about his experiences.
The first half of the novel deals with the everyday lives of Agnes and Art as they try to figure out the ins and outs of marriage and attempt to build a life together. There are no great tragedies or revelations or surprise moments in this part. Lisa Brown takes her time to portray realistic characters to whom the reader can relate on both an emotional and spiritual level. Art and Agnes are surrounded by their loving family and close friends and together they also encounter some of the issues of the times such as prohibition and later the Great Depression. Lisa builds characters with whom you will become emotionally invested and hope the best for.
When Agnes’ two older sisters, with whom she is very close, move across Canada to Vancouver, Agnes and Art decide that they also want to relocate and start a new life. Lisa takes her time to describe beautifully the Canadian landscape as the family travels west by train. This book makes me want to plan a vacation to western Canada, a part of the world I would never have considered traveling.
But will everything really work out for Agnes and Art? What trials and tribulations will the family face in a new city? Should they have ever left Winnepeg in the first place?
The title itself is definitely a hint that you should be ready with some tissues at the end of this book. The reason we like tragedy and suffering in art is due to the fact that it helps us deal with and find a catharsis for our own grief in real life. THE SEEDS OF SORROW is a must read for anyone who wants a profound emotional experience and enjoys historical fiction set in the early 20th Century.
Q&A with the Author Lisa Brown:
1. How did you decide to make Agnes the focus of this book as opposed to some of the other characters?
2. What type of research did you do for Art’s character as far as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
I actually didn’t do any research. It was never about PTSD for me. My reader’s labelled it that way. It was a eureka moment for me when I read the first review. It was by someone that was a student of PTSD, and I thought “Wow”! For me, it was about my great grandfather’s painful journey. For me, it was purely emotional, not clinical. But it goes to show you that we are all emotional beings and our experiences, as well as our actions and reactions, are rarely unique.
3. How did you come up with the title “The Seeds of Sorrow”? It is much more subtle than the title for your first book. Did you have other working titles that you were considering?
The Seeds of Sorrow, as a title, perfectly captured what I have experienced in my own family over time. It speaks to the lasting effects of trauma and sadness that can trickle down through the generations. It can be much more lasting and impactful on who we are as people than happiness can. Some of us can manage through the difficulties, and even come through them stronger, and some are not as successful. It is the nurture part of nature versus nurture, the emotional impact of our family relationships, that I believe has the greater impact on who we are.
4. Are you planning on writing a third book? It seems that you could continue writing the story of this family through any of the daughters’ children.