Latitudes of Melt

Publisher: Vintage Canada
This bountiful, magical novel opens with the discovery by two fishermen of a baby floating in a cradle on an ice pan in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland in 1912. To the small fishing community into which the foundling is adopted, Aurora, as they name her – with her shock of white hair, one blue eye and one brown – is clearly enchanted. But it is not until Aurora is herself an old woman that she learns the heart-wrenching story behind her miraculous survival on the ice.


Francis St. Croix spotted it first, a black dot floating in an ocean of water and ice. When he and Ernie rowed alongside for a look, they couldn't believe their eyes. There was a baby inside a makeshift cradle on an ice pan, bobbing like an ice cube on the sea. How had a baby come to be in the North Atlantic? Francis...
Read More


1. At one point in the novel, Stan reminisces about his early fascination with ice, remembering the hours he would spend watching "pack ice tame the ocean." How has this family been influenced by the beauty and danger of icebergs? What does ice represent for each of them?

2. Discuss the relationship...

Read More


“Joan Clark evokes the profound sense of place we associate with the best Canadian writing. Her writing exudes the salty, fishy, bracing air of Newfoundland.... Absorbing and thick with rich and sustaining as a figgy duff.” —The Gazette (Montreal)

“The Titanic looms large, but family dynamics in outport Newfoundland is Joan Clark’s real subject. Fictionally evoking vanished communities and a disappearing way of life can’t restore them. But it can keep their memory — and their value — alive. Joan Clark accomplishes that and more in this skillful blend of family saga and historical epic.” —The Toronto Star

“[Latitudes of Melt has] wonderful moments of clarity and transcendence, but never loses sight of what an ordinary life is.” —Carol Shields

Latitudes of Melt is rife with ethereal, transcendent imagery and writing…This book has the making of myth: huge landscapes, big events, the quest for family connection.” —Moira Dann, Globe and Mail, 18 November 2000

"This magical tale of a baby found floating on an ice pan ... will arouse the spirit and inflame the imagination.... A delicious brew of fiction and fantasy based in Newfoundland." —Sunday Telegram (St. John's)

"Latitudes of Melt is an epic novel, about one woman's mythic origins, about communities that divide and shift under the weight of time, and about the mysteries and constellations within the ice. A rewarding tale." —Peter Oliva

"A whimsical, lyrical novel from a writer who knows Newfoundland well and conjures it with grace." —Wayne Johnston

“Much of the novel’s unique beauty derives from defying classification. Equal parts mystery, history, geography, tall tale, reminiscence and myth, it’s perhaps most accurately called a love story…Latitudes of Melt is her finest achievement to date.” —Robert Reid, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 4 November 2000