Emily: Song of a Newfoundland Life

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Emily: Song of a Newfoundland Life

Emily: Song of a Newfoundland Life
Denise Batten
Creative Publishers
ISBN 13:
# of pages:
50 pages
April 2012
Our Price
$ 19.95

Item Detail

  1. Overview
  2. About the Author
  3. Book Review
  4. Excerpt
  • Overview

    Emily is a story written in verse and based on the life of the author’s maternal grandmother, Emily Nolan, who was born in rural Newfoundland in 1900. Denise Batten tells the story of Emily's colourful life, which reflects the lives of so many courageous Newfoundland women of her time. The verses have been put to music, so the story of Emily can be sung – much like a traditional Irish ballad or story song. Readers will also enjoy the photos of original hand-hooked rugs designed specifically for the project by Kaaren Batten, a gifted Ontario artist. 

    The musical recording of Emily is available for free download in mp3 format. Visit:


     Lyrics and Composition: Denise Batten


    Vocals: Denise Batten


    Acoustic Guitar and Keyboards: Barry Davis

     Musical Arrangement: Barry Davis

     Sound Engineering and Recording: Barry Davis


  • About the Author

    Denise Batten is a Newfoundland writer, singer, and storyteller who recently returned after spending twenty years away from the province. Childhood memories and a deep connection to home and family have been strong sources of inspiration for her creative work. She teaches Intermediate English and French at Laval High School, Placentia.

  • Book Review

    Each life, though it may not be extraordinary exactly, is unique in its own way. And when we reflect on the lives of our forebears, especially ones who grew up and made a living in rural Newfoundland, we can't help the feeling that these lives were extraordinary insofar as their experiences were different from our own.
    Rural Newfoundland, after all, is not how it once was – when its people were more self-sufficient.
    A new book from Creative Publishing takes an alternative approach to telling the story of a woman's life. "Emily: Song of a Newfoundland Life," by Denise Batten, is her grandmother's life story. She narrates this story in two ways: through hooked-rug scenes depicting turning points in her grandmother's life; and in short verses that accompany each image. Together, these verses make up a lyrical ballad celebrating Emily Nolan's life.
    It's an especially imaginative approach to telling a Newfoundland woman's life story. Making it even more pertinent is the way Emily's life is so emblematic of other women's lives in this province — the way they grew up; toiled from a young age; and married and raised families.
    They were co-providers, and the skills and strength they had to use in making a living for themselves and their dependents was nothing short of awe-inspiring. They did it all, and this is no understatement.
    Unconsciously, ahead of their time, they were feminists. They were equals of men. Yes, their work was 'traditional' in that they ran the household.
    But this work was hard and it had to meet a lot of needs. It required immense resourcefulness and required many skills.
    To every degree their work was as vital as those of their husbands — in whose work they often shared, actually.
    Author Denise Batten makes certain to work these kinds of details into the story — which begins with the birth of Mary Emily Marrie in 1900 in Mount Carmel. Batten supplies a useful foreword, which supplies necessary background information.
    From there, the book relies entirely on the media of verse and pictures. By the end of the story, it seems amazing how well you've gotten to know the subject.
    Think you know rug-hooking? Kaaren Batten's creations here, telling Emily's life story and reproduced as photographs, gave me a new respect for the craft.
    Batten's creations are striking in their detail and colour, and it's entirely fitting to see a traditional life take shape in front of your eyes through an artistic medium that is, itself, traditional.
    Denise Batten's "Emily: Song of a Newfoundland Life," is not an attractive book or a unique book; it is an important work, and a valuable addition to the body of Newfoundland and Labrador books dealing with women's life writing.

    Western Star Book Review
    Darrell Squires
    assistant manager of Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries, West Newfoundland-Labrador division

  • Excerpt

    Both of my grandparents were strongly connected to the people and places they loved. Roots that held them together and bound them to this place extended far beyond their own children and grandchildren. Magnificent roots, of humble beginnings, continue to reach past the old Nolan homestead in Mitchell’s Brook, sinking deep into the rocky soil of their once flourishing gardens, pushing across the road and down onto the beach, extending well beyond the old fish flakes and wooden stage built by my grandfather’s hands. Retracing the steps of my mother and her siblings, these same tenacious roots creep playfully along that old shoreline before carefully making their way out of the bay, where they dare, just as my grandfather and great grandfather once did, to meet their fate in the unwelcoming waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
    The moment I was born, those ancient roots found safe harbour in me. They brought with them the secrets of my family’s past, forever anchoring me to this place. Songs and stories of long ago, shared through a rich history of oral tradition, are gifts that I know were never mine to keep. Briefly, I locked them away in my heart. I have tried my best to protect and preserve them for more than 40 years, waiting for my turn to pass them on. This time has come.
    From the foreward of Emily: Song of a Newfoundland Life.

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We acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF), and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation for our publisihng program.

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