A NovelBook - 2005
Berth is the story of thirty-something Willa's flight from a military marriage to the romance of life with Hugh, a lightkeeper on an island in Halifax Harbour. Set in 1987, the story begins with Willa's move to the nearby base, where her husband Charlie works aboard the Sea King helicopters. Charmed by Hugh's lifestyle, Willa moves in with him, taking her ten-year-old son, Alex. Hugh's job is endangered by the encroaching automation of the lighthouses, but he clings to his way of life -- despite suspicions that the house in which he lives and which contains the light is contaminated by the mercury in the light, an occupational hazard.
From the outset, the affair is complicated by Willa's motherhood, and the island, once a remote paradise, soon reveals itself as the military's dumping grounds. The reality of life there sets in, posing a threat not just to romance, but to Willa's sanity.
The novel explores the human propensity to seek greener pastures, and, by turn, to suffer the dangers of the status quo. It's about idealism -- the purity of love and nature, and their defilement, and the survival of both, however diminished, in a fallen world.