Surface Rights by Melissa HardySurface Rights by Melissa Hardy

Surface Rights

byMelissa Hardy

Paperback | November 30, 2013

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 110 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


Ships within 1-3 weeks

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


An unexpected conflict forces Verna to re-examine her life.

What was it Donald used to say? "When it comes to children, you pay now or pay later. You never don't pay."

Middle-aged Verna Macoun Woodcock returns to the family cottage for the first time in 38 years to scatter the ashes of her husband, father, and twin sister. At first she is alone except for her dad's dog, the lake, bitter memories, and a barely hidden drinking problem. But soon Verna is forced to open up her tightly shut world to others: strong-willed handywoman Winonah; the neglected children of her sister, each lost and broken in their own way; even the ghost of Winonah's dead brother, Lionel, who can't seem to make it to the Sky World.

Just as Verna is starting to accept this newfound family, she discovers a menacing prospector who posts a notice on the cottage door, stating his intention to dig for ore. As it turns out, the Macouns hold the surface rights for the land, but not the mineral rights. For the first time in her life, Verna has something to fight for and family at stake.

Melissa Hardy has published three novels and two collections of short stories, including Broken Road, The Uncharted Heart, and A Cry of Bees. She has won the Journey Prize and been published in numerous journals, including The Atlantic, Exile, and Descant. She lives in the village of Port Stanley, Ontario.
Title:Surface RightsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:296 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 1 inShipping dimensions:8.5 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:November 30, 2013Publisher:DundurnLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:145970715X

ISBN - 13:9781459707153


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Smart, funny and entertaining Surface Rights has many of the elements that I look for when purchasing a book: a strong female lead, a cast of weird and wonderful supporting characters, and a story line (plus a couple of engaging subplots) that kept me guessing until the end. A bonus was the setting, a rundown family cottage in the wilderness, so dear and familiar to Canadian hearts. This is the type of novel to read beside a cozy fireplace, or dangling your feet off the pier in front of your own cottage.
Date published: 2013-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Opening up the Family Cottage The family cottage in Surface Rights is as much a character as any of the other eccentric and always interesting characters populating this instantly engaging northern Ontario story. Verna sets off on a sad and solitary mission to her multi-generation family cottage near the fictional town of Greater Gammage near Timmins, Ontario. Travelling with her are the “cremains” of her twin sister, father, and ex-husband, and her father’s dog Jude, a very much alive Labrador retriever. Loaded down with family baggage, yet seemingly without a family, Verna must spread the ashes and prepare the cottage for sale. So much for aloneness, and for sadness, when she meets kind-hearted, wise and very large Carmen, the cottage real estate agent. In typical small-town fashion, Carmen notifies others that Verna, a member of the Macoun clan, is in the area, and this gets the ball rolling. Winonah, a First Nations handywoman, pays a visit during one of Verna’s blistering hangovers, and brings along her brother, who isn’t all there - turns out, he’s a ghost. The cottage begins to swell with visitors, human, or ghostly, and sometimes unwanted - it becomes a magnet for damaged and suffering souls. At the heart of the story are the circumstances surrounding the mysterious death of Fern, Verna’s twin sister, and the unconventional, feckless life leading to it. Fern's three children, all from different fathers and living apart, arrive, and we learn the details of their complicated childhoods. Verna faces hard truths about her relationship with her sister, her husband, and her propensity for booze. But for all the seriousness, Surface Rights is darkly funny, and fuelled by this unlikely group of characters and their crackling dialogue, the story sweeps along with surprises, humour and insight into complicated and very real human relationships. The cottage in Surface Rights burgeons with family life, in all its complexity - sad, funny, ugly, terrifying, crazy, but ultimately filled with love.
Date published: 2013-12-20

Editorial Reviews

In recent years, as [Dundurn Press] has grown, absorbing other firms, it has gained a reputation for fine fiction. An example? Surface Rights by Melissa Hardy. - Owen Sound Sun Times