Congratulations on the publication of UNREST by Gwen Tuinman publishing today with Random House Canada!

Brash, duplicitous women, murder and mayhem, and illicit love abound in this wild adventure for fans of Outlander and The Home for Unwanted Girls, announcing a major new talent in historical fiction.

Bytown, 1836: The lawless cesspool that will become the city of Ottawa is beginning to reek of more than just swamp water. Rife with squalor, corruption, and organized crime, class injustice divides the town more starkly than the canal that bisects it, cutting off its Irish poor—who are ready to fight back.

On a homestead in the woods near Bytown, a domestic drama is also reaching a fever pitch. Quiet, ungainly Mariah, her face scarred in a dog attack back home in Ireland, has been living on sufferance in her sister Biddy’s home since they sailed for a new life. She’s treated as the spinster aunt, a farmhand working alongside Biddy’s husband, Seamus. But the three of them are keeping a bitter secret: Mariah, in love with Seamus, is the mother of Thomas, the family’s oldest child. And she’s about to burst under the strain of making herself small.

While Mariah plots to claim her rightful place in the world, Thomas keeps secrets of his own. Eager to escape the roiling tensions at home, he’s apprenticed himself to a blacksmith in Bytown, but soon falls into trouble too big for him to handle. To save himself, he’s made a deal with the one man colder than the devil—Peter Aylen, leader of a powerful Irish rebel gang. As danger mounts, both for Thomas and for the town, there’s only one way for Mariah to save her son: by becoming the hero of her own story, facing her deepest fears with a determination she never knew she had.

Praise for UNREST:

“Tuinman expertly paints this unsafe place in an unsafe time . . . [with] a satisfying and quite unexpected ending to one woman’s resolute journey to take back what is hers. A riveting, tightly plotted family story.” —Historical Novel Society

“Dark secrets seeded in Ireland burst into full and furious bloom in Gwen Tuinman’s Unrest. With sharply-seen details of 1830s Ottawa, Unrest parallels personal and political peril in the gritty world of Bytown’s Irish poor. Tender, brutal, heartbreaking and true, this is historical fiction at its best.” —Beth Powning, author of The Sister’s Tale

“Meticulously researched and exquisitely written, Unrest is unapologetic in its starkly vivid depiction of Upper Canada’s frozen wilderness and the people who survived within it. A marvellous adventure.” —Genevieve Graham, author of The Forgotten Home Child

“In her stunningly beautiful story Unrest, Gwen Tuinman’s memorable antiheroes—the transcendent and mesmerizing Mariah, and the dazzlingly rebellious young Thomas—navigate the wilds alongside a gang of unforgettably diverse eccentrics in the lawless Ottawa Valley of 1836. The writing is a triumph—unflinchingly powerful and at the same time a meditation on motherhood, love, and what we must do to become our true selves. Tuinman’s prose is as remarkable and exquisite as its setting, saturated with period detail and heart. I couldn’t put it down.” —Maia Caron, author of Song of Batoche

“Unrest is a wild ride through a bygone world bristling with life. Tuinman’s flawed and feisty mother-son duo hold on tight through it all, losing and finding their way amid poverty and longing, violence and lies. An unforgettable portrait of human cruelty and its only possible conqueror, love.” —Alissa York, author of Far Cry

“Gwen Tuinman’s Unrest depicts a little-known aspect of 19th century Canadian history. Her portrayal of the lives of Irish immigrants to Ottawa is expertly drawn in remarkable detail, from political gatherings in taverns to encounters with the harsh winter landscape. . . . An important story that opens a window on what it means to fight for your place here.” —Suzanne Desrochers, author of Bride of New France

“Set in frontier Ottawa and the frozen wilderness of Upper Canada, Unrest offers a unique, vibrant account of the Irish poor as they navigate a society awash in hardship, corruption, and prejudice. Tough-as-nails Mariah and her rash, willful son Thomas come to vivid, aching life as they rise up against the oppressive forces that restrain them. A skillfully researched, compelling tale of resilience, love and the relentless pursuit of one’s dreams.” —Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Painted Girls

“I could not rest until I turned the last, thoroughly satisfying page of Unrest, a mesmerizing tale that drew me in from the first gorgeously lyrical page. With unforgettable characters and meticulous detail, the author immerses readers in the cold, hard-scrabble existence of Upper Canada and the soul of the oppressed Irish . . . A compelling story of deception and truth, terror and courage, subjugation and transformation, Unrest makes history both vividly particular and timeless in its incisive depiction of human passions.” —Lilian Nattel, author of Only Sisters

“Lively, many-voiced, and replete with detail, Unrest is a great adventure and an impressive portrait of little-known settler life around Ottawa. Its characters will live on in your mind.” —Alix Hawley, author of My Name Is a Knife

“I really, really loved Unrest . . . Unrest paints a stark and vivid portrait of a family bound in a tight knot of conflicting secrets, obligations, and desires, while invoking early 19th century life in Upper Canada in every rebellious, hardscrabble detail. The compelling, multifaceted characters raise entirely modern questions about the nature of what one wants versus what one needs, and which things are truly worth fighting for.” —Rose Sutherland, author of A Sweet Sting of Salt

“In this unflinching, gripping novel of survival and perseverance, Tuinman seamlessly weaves meticulous historical research with compelling, achingly human characters to bring 19th century Ontario alive on the page. From the squalid, grimy streets of historical Ottawa to the harsh camaraderie of timber camps deep in the wilderness, Unrest takes readers on an intimate tour of life in Canada’s past. An inspiring story of one woman’s triumph against a society that dismisses her worth, and the inner fire that keeps us going through the darkest nights of the soul.” —Loghan Paylor, author of The Cure for Drowning

Gwen Tuinman is descended from Irish tenant farmers and English Quakers. Her storytelling influences include soul searching, an interest in bygone days, and the complexities of living a life. Fascinated by the landscape of human tenacity, she writes about women navigating the social restrictions of their era. Gwen lives with her husband on a small rural homestead in Ontario’s Kawartha Lakes region.

Gwen is represented by Marilyn Biderman.