Bravo! This is good, very good. These characters are people who will always live inside of me. I lingered near the end of the book, not wanting it to end. I love the way the story plays with fantasy and reality. Myth and the real. There is wonder and awe and the all-compellingness of love. Here's to The Old Mermaid's Tale, may it enliven the hearts and minds of many, many reader, for many, many years to come . . . -- Lawrence Jordan, Lawrence Jordan Literary Agency
I gobbled up this novel. It is enticing in the style of Fielding. The details are fresh and ring true. Lavish and exuberant, it keeps the reader interested from beginning to end. -- Ingeborg Lauterstein, author of Vienna Girl and The Water Castle
From the Publisher
In 1959 the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to international commerce creating a problem for seaport towns bordering the Great Lakes. Within the first year over a thousand barges and tankers from all over the world arrived at these seaports to unload, re-outfit and reload. While waiting, the crew, that had been at sea for weeks, went ashore looking for fun and companionship. Restaurants, bars, pool halls, rooming houses, tattoo parlors, and rumors of other - less savory - forms of entertainment sprang up in the blocks surrounding the commercial docks. Those parts of town acquired a deservedly terrible reputation.
When Clair Wagner begins college in Port Presque Isle she dreams of meeting a "handsome sailor with the constellations of the Northern Seas in his eyes". Into her life comes Pio, a beautiful Italian fisherman, who dreams of life on the big lakes under the aurora borealis. She meets Gary, the dashing son of a wealthy shipping magnate, who introduces her to Canal Street where she encounters The Old Mermaid Inn, a tavern that, as Gary tells her, "deserves its reputation".
But The Old Mermaid Inn, with its giant painting of a seductive mermaid, is home to some fascinating people including Tessie, the owner and original mermaid, and the intriguing Baptiste, a Breton mariner injured in a shipwreck, who earns his living as a musician.
With Pio, Clair discovers passion, with Gary she gains entry into the world of the commercial waterfront, and with Baptiste she discovers all-consuming love. But as her relationship with Baptiste grows she discovers he is far more complex and mysterious than she could imagine. He has secrets and his secrets will alter her life forever.