From the Publisher
Named one of the year''s best books by the Globe and
Mail, Maclean''s, and Elm Street
"A letter," wrote Emily Dickinson, "always seemed to me like
immortality." Letters - personal, revealing, unguarded - sometimes
survive their authors and their recipients, preserving lives,
inviting discovery, daring interpretation.
In 1987, writer Merilyn Simonds found a cache of letters, albums,
clippings and other memorabilia in the attic of her Kingston,
Ontario, home, the bits and pieces of an unknown woman's life.
Among the overflowing boxes and stuffed sugar sacks was a tin box
that held one complete, brief collection of letters from the months
immediately after the First World War in 1919, a one-way
correspondence written in pencil on flimsy paper, undated and
without postmarks. From this careless jumble of pages, remarkable
individuals and events emerged: a convict, a penitentiary, a
village girl, a life in small town Canada at the end of the Great
Merilyn Simonds was drawn irresistibly to the lives of Joe "Daddy
Long Legs", a thief and con artist incarcerated inside the stone
fortress that was the country's most notorious prison, and of
Phyllis Halliday, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl whose family home
bordered the prison quarry and who fell under the spell of a man
she could never meet or touch, except through their clandestine
Around them swirled a cast of equally compelling characters, chief
among them William St. Pierre Hughes, superintendent of the
nations' prisons, whose fate, like those of Joe and Phyllis, was
bound to the conspiracies and intrigues inside Kingston
Penitentiary. All three are caught in prisons of their own
devising; only one truly escapes.
In the year after its publication, families of all the major
characters in the book contacted author Merilyn Sinonds to share
their stories and find out more about these little known relations.
As a result, she learned that Joseph Cleroux had been part of the
Cleroux gang that burgled Ottawa Valley businesses in the first
decades of the 1900s.
The story of Josie Cleroux's early years and what is now known
about where he ended up is told in the epilogue of the paperback
edition of The Convict Lover
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Merilyn Simonds was born in 1949 in Winnipeg,
Manitoba, and grew up in southwestern Ontario and Brazil. After
many years as a magazine journalist, she published The Convict
Lover, which instantly put her on the literary map as a writer
exploring the zone where fact and fiction meet. In 1999 she
published The Lion in the Room Next Door, a collection of
nonfiction stories, to international acclaim. She lives near
Kingston, Ontario, with writer Wayne Grady.
From the Hardcover edition.
Format: Trade Paperback
Published: January 1, 1997
Publisher: Macfarlane, Walter & Ross
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1551990199
ISBN - 13: 9781551990194