One Who Has Been Here Before
by Rebecca Babcock
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 12 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 31 May 2021
Nimbus Publishing, Vagrant Press
Contemporary Atlantic fiction inspired by Nova Scotia's notorious Goler clan.
I move around the side of the house. There is a thick mass of shrubs on the north-east side. Juniper, and caragana gone wild. Without thinking, I pluck a flower and put it into my mouth, savoring the delicate yellowness of its flavour. Now when did I learn to do that? Who first put a caragana blossom on my tongue?
Emma G. Weaver easily loses herself in history. She's much more comfortable imagining the lives of the dead than getting involved with the living. She pushes down nagging questions about her own history, but when her Master's research leads her from her safe and comfortable life in Edmonton, Alberta, back to the south shore of Nova Scotia, those questions can't help but bubble to the surface. And Emma soon finds that the lives of the dead are inextricably linked to the lives of the living, that secrets don't stay hidden forever—and that everything changes when they come to light.
Inspired by the true story of the notorious Goler clan of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley, this work of contemporary Atlantic gothic fiction troubles the boundaries between myth and truth, villains and victims.
“A strong, confident debut novel about a complicated homecoming, peopled with characters you will remember and even almost recognize. Brimming with compassion, One Who Has Been Here Before explores family in all its forms, those we’re born to and those we build, those we lose and those we find again.”
–Rebecca Silver Slayter, author of In the Land of Birdfishes and The Second History
“Rebecca Babcock has done what most good writers do: taken an old story and made it new again. One Who Has Been Here Before is wonderfully written, evoking thought, questions, and ponderings long after the last page is read. First novel? I'm betting it won't be her last!”
–Donna Morrissey, award-winning author of The Fortunate Brother
“A contemplative and compelling novel about a young woman’s fascination with a notorious Nova Scotia family. One Who Has Been Here Before is an artfully braided book about the power of storytelling, history, and, ultimately, belonging.”
–Harriet Alida Lye, author of The Honey Farm and Natural Killer
“Many paths lead away from tragedy. What happens after an entire extended family is carted away amidst reports of abuse and neglect? From page one I was drawn into the ever-darkening woods of One Who Has Been Here Before. Rebecca Babcock’s debut novel takes us beyond the whispers of scandal, humanizing a story of shame with fully-drawn characters, keen attention to detail and superb pacing. It’s a heartbreaking story of a shattered family rooted in Nova Scotia’s not-so-distant past.”
–Nicola Davison, award-winning author of In the Wake
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 3 members
I received One Who Has Been Here Before as part of a NetGalley giveaway. Emma Weaver is returning to her childhood home in Nova Scotia to study the infamous, extended Gaugin family as part of her master's thesis. Long the subjects of disdain and suspicion, the mysterious family scattered to the four winds decades earlier when the children were removed from the family "compound" for neglect. However, she has reasons other than mere historical inquiry--she herself is a Gaugin,dopted as a young child but curious about the past whose effects she feels even today. As she pieces together her fragmented memories and makes contact with those whose memories are clearer. Emma begins to come to terms with her own history and move forward. This was a lovely, bittersweet story, about the making and breaking of families, and the effects of trauma on children decades after the fact. It's not full of major twists and turns, just a woman uncovering her past. The characters are beautifully drawn and the intimacy of Nova Scotian life is vibrant and moving. Would highly recommend.
This was a lovely yet sad bittersweet story about the effect that trauma can have on children years after the trauma has occurred and about the things that make and break a family. I found the characters memorable and engaging and the narrative very well written, it is not full of suspense or plot twists just the recounting of one person’s life and it was done beautifully. I couldnt stop reading well into the night and early morning until I had finished it.