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Local artist’s first book touches on family history and a mystery

Nancy Hussey, pictured at her art gallery in Hantsport, recently finished penning her debut novel, which features a family secret that had been kept for 60 years. The cover features the old farmhouse where Hussey grew up in Middleton.
Nancy Hussey, pictured at her art gallery in Hantsport, recently finished penning her debut novel, which features a family secret that had been kept for 60 years. The cover features the old farmhouse where Hussey grew up in Middleton. - Colin Chisholm

‘This could be a movie’

HANTSPORT, N.S. - Nancy Hussey had no idea the story of her family would resonate with so many, but early indications show it could be a big hit.

The tantalizingly titled Grace’s Secret tells the true story of a woman’s struggle through an unforgiving time while keeping something so personal away from so many.

The book, self-published and hot off the presses as of late December, deals with a significant moment in Hussey’s mother’s life, and a secret she kept for 60 years.

It’s both a personal and historical book, and although non-fiction, the story seems like something out of an episode of Downton Abbey or a Jane Austen novel.

The cover features the old farmhouse where Hussey grew up in Middleton, which is also the setting for much of the story.

The culmination of the text has been a multi-year, note-taking project by Hussey and her late sister, who have meticulously written details down. It’s also been heavily researched to give the setting an authentic feeling.

“I knew I really wanted to get all of this down and out there before it all got lost,” Hussey said in her historic Hantsport home, which is also the site of her art gallery.

“Every time I would come home I would interview mom or dad and write things down, learning about Prince Albert and Middleton and places they were from and lived.”

“I just realized that I had all of this information and had to get it in one place and I had nephews and nieces asking me for things,” she said. “I wrote about her experience and the really tragic life she lived.”

Grace’s secret, which we’ve been asked not to reveal, goes back to the 1920s and was kept away from public knowledge for many decades.

“People say to me all the time ‘this could be a movie,’” she said with a laugh.

There’s a big emphasis on the region’s history as well, going as far back as the 1700s with the Acadians, the world wars and more.

“A lot of the men I’ve talked to who have picked it up and read it really enjoy the war stories, how people used to send waxed apples and donuts to the soldiers,” she said. “I can’t believe how many people I’ve heard from across Canada.”

This is Hussey’s first book, but the reception she’s received already has made her think about giving it another go in the near future.

She received some mentorship from local authors David Whitman and Carol Ann Cole.

“I didn’t know how many to order at first, but as I began to list relatives and friends that I thought would want a copy, I was around 350 or so,” she said. “But when I talked to David Whitman, he said, ‘you need to go with 1,000. You’re not going to believe how popular this is going to be.’”

And it seems like Whitman’s instincts were right, with Hussey selling close to 200 copies already.

“Once I put it on Facebook, I was getting orders of five or 10 copies right across Canada,” she said. “People relate to this story.”

Books are available for purchase at Hussey’s gallery at 28 Avon St. and will soon be distributed to other retailers in the Valley, she said.

Event

A book signing has been scheduled at the Macdonald Museum at 21 School St. in Middleton for Jan. 31 from 2 to 4 p.m.

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