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Dundurn Press, 2013

This contemporary novel is about a middle-aged woman who travels to the family cottage to scatter the ashes of her husband, father and twin sister, only to discover that a mysterious and menacing stranger has claim-staked a portion of her property.  In the course of dealing with this intrusion, she must also contend with her troubled past, her adversarial relationship with her sister and her own self-destructive tendencies. Surface Rights is a darkly funny novel about belonging, family, dogs, fear of fat, ghosts and place.



“A thoroughly readable, and enjoyable, modern family saga. The Macouns may be f**ked up but they’re, frankly, very engaging in their humanness.”

Robert Colliso, Toronto Star

“Widowed retiree Verna Woodcock returns to her family’s cottage, north of the Arctic Watershed line, bearing the ashes of three people: her philandering husband, Robert; her father, Donald; and her eccentric sister, Fern. Once at the cottage, she is unexpectedly reunited with Fern’s children, relatives Verna has not seen in decades, thanks to madcap Fern’s carefree and careless ways. More ominously, J.R., Fern’s unlovable ex-beau appears with designs on the mineral rights on Verna’s land and an intimate connection to Fern’s horrific death, the revelation of which will provide the newly reunited family with an unanticipated opportunity to bond. Many of Hardy’s characters bear the scars of deep psychological damage, but they are also amiable; the novel appears to be one part Arsenic and Old Lace and several parts doleful CBC radio drama. The resulting melange is more comic than one might expect. Hardy (Broken Road) embraces her Canadian setting, and although her characters are drawn in broad, simplistic lines, the resulting tale of reconnection and personal growth through furtive burials is amusing.”

Publishers Weekly

The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council
during the writing of Surface Rights.

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