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Once We Had a Country

A richly textured novel of idealism and romance, Once We Had a Country re-imagines the impact of the Vietnam War by way of the women and children who fled with the draft dodgers.

It's the summer of 1972. Maggie, a young schoolteacher, leaves the United States to settle with her boyfriend, Fletcher, on a farm near Niagara Falls. Fletcher is avoiding the Vietnam draft, but they've also come to Harroway with a loftier aim: to start a commune, work the land and create a new model for society. Hopes are high for life at Harroway; equally so for Maggie and Fletcher's budding relationship, heady as it is with passion, jealousy and uncertainty. As the summer passes, more people come to the farm--just not who Maggie and Fletcher expected. Then the US government announces the end of the draft, and Fletcher faces increasing pressure from his family to return home. At the same time, Maggie must deal with the recent disappearance of her father, a missionary, in the jungle of Laos. What happened in those days before her father vanished, and how will his life and actions affect Maggie's future? Once We Had a Country is a literary work of the highest order, a novel that re-imagines an era we thought we knew, and that compels us to consider our own belief systems and levels of tolerance.

Praise for Once We Had a Country

Once We Had a Country crackles and sweats as it sweeps us from the farmlands of Niagara to the steamy jungles of Laos. With his elegant prose, Robert McGill forces us to question what we believe in, what we love, and just how much we’re willing to sacrifice.”
—Tanis Rideout, author of Above All Things

Once We Had a Country explores the hubris of missionary work and the naiveté of living off the land. The predicaments of a father and daughter illuminate the troubles that can plague our efforts to encourage love. Robert McGill examines the inner workings of the outsider’s life, both here and abroad. A complex and compelling read.”
—Michael Winter, author of Minister without Portfolio

“Like a troubled dream I couldn’t shake, Once We Had a Country drew me in and held me captive. Robert McGill’s characters took up residence in my heart with all their baggage. They’re still there.”
—Frances Greenslade, author of Shelter

Praise for Robert McGill:
"A talented writer, adept at expressing the nuanced, unspoken truths that beg the lies by which we live."
The Observer

"A young writer of remarkable talent and enormous narrative appetites--a storyteller who refuses to keep things straight, and...produces freshly captivating effects."
—Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle and The Guardians