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Cape Breton author releasing new book

Beatrice MacNeil's latest book, “The Girl He Left Behind,” will be released on May 12. CONTRIBUTED
Beatrice MacNeil's latest book, “The Girl He Left Behind,” will be released on May 12. CONTRIBUTED
SYDNEY, N.S. —

It may be the time of COVID-19 but Beatrice MacNeil is surprisingly reserved about her latest novel.

“With all the suffering that people are going through right now, I feel foolish even mentioning it to people,” the award-winning writer told the Cape Breton Post in a recent interview.

Harper Collins will release “The Girl He Left Behind” on May 12. 

For MacNeil, there’s no time like the present to begin work on her latest book, tentatively named “Millions, Minestrone and A Mustang.”

“The Girl He Left Behind” is Beatrice MacNeil’s latest book. CONTRIBUTED
“The Girl He Left Behind” is Beatrice MacNeil’s latest book. CONTRIBUTED

“I’m not suffering,” she said. “You can’t go to church, you can’t go anywhere. I don’t remember anything this bad. When SARS was around, people weren’t quarantined like this.”

MacNeil has spent three years working on “The Girl He Left Behind,” her first book in four years. It follows Willow Alexander who, 15 years previous, was jilted at the altar by her high school sweetheart, Graham Currie.

She remains in the small town of Glenmor in Cape Breton, caring for her ailing parents and nursing her heartache. Willow lost more than her marriage on that day, which is why she remains on her family’s expansive property unable to let go of the secret she has kept hidden for more than a decade.

Soon after her 40th birthday, Willow finds out that Graham is returning to town, without his new wife, after years of working as a doctor in New York City. As Willow wonders how she will deal with Graham’s arrival, tragedy strikes again: her friend, Kathleen, and her husband, local doctor James Millhouse, are found dead. Willow was the last one to see the couple on the night they died and she fears that she may have accidentally had a hand in their deaths.

“The Girl He Left Behind” is a story about how confronting life’s greatest uncertainties is often the only way to move forward. 

As far as moving forward goes, MacNeil is doing the same by continuing to write, even after her own health scare a few months ago. After undergoing surgery, it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve that she found out everything was OK. 

“It takes a while to recover from major surgery,” she said, adding she’s grateful for being able to keep writing. “It’s not easy but we do what we have to do.”

MacNeil is the author of eight books that have travelled around the world, receiving numerous awards and rave reviews. She was recently asked to do a reading at MIT and was even mentioned on the NBC Today show during Dementia and Alzheimer Awareness Month in 2018 for her novel, “The Keeper of Tides.” She knew something was up when American cruise ship passengers mentioned they had seen it on the show and were familiar with her work.

“I had no idea — once a book is out anybody can promote it,” she said. “I have no say over what people say or do but that made me smile. So many people saw it.”

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