The HSW Literary Agency



Eileen Delehanty Pearkes

Long fascinated by landscape and the human imagination, Eileen Delehanty Pearkes writes a column on Canadian landscape and history for American readers in The North Columbia Monthly, a newsmagazine distributed throughout northern Washington and Idaho. Now in its second printing, Eileen’s The Geography of Memory (Kutenai House Press, 2002) is a unique collection of essays that explore the indigenous Sinixt people and their historic connection to the Upper Columbia Basin. In addition to The Geography of Memory, Eileen has published a memoir of her mother’s struggle with Alzheimer's, The Glass Seed (timeless books, 2007); coauthored, with K. Linda Kivi, The Inner Green (Maa Press, 2005); and contributed to various newspapers and anthologies, including the Globe & Mail, Going Some Place (Coteau Books, 2000), and River of Memory (edited by William D. Layman; UBC Press, 2006). From 2002 to 2009, Eileen was a regular contributor to the award-winning magazine Ascent. 

Work on Offer:

The Pleasure of Water

It’s 1908 and like most Scottish women of her class and strict Presbyterian upbringing, nineteen-year-old Norah MacNaughton is encouraged to aspire to a good marriage and a family of her own, instead of the artist’s career she desires. After a chance encounter with the married artist William Donald, who is visiting the rural countryside near her home, Norah makes fresh efforts to seek her parents’ permission for art school. Upon the intervention of the local school master, Norah’s parents allow her to attend the Glasgow School of Art—if only to enable her temporary employment as an art teacher.

In Glasgow Norah embraces a city alive with culture, prosperity, and industry. After a brief encounter at a public art lecture, Norah visits William’s studio, where she observes his private struggle to establish a new direction for his work. Norah is unaware of William’s reputation as a womanizer, and in her naivety, she is especially susceptible to his charms. At the same time, the director of the school notices her talent and recommends that she enter the advanced program in January. She returns home for the Christmas holiday with two secrets to keep: the fact that she has left teacher training behind and her rewarding but increasingly more illicit friendship with William.                
When collegial discussions of colour, light and composition give way to an affair, William’s creativity flourishes as Norah’s moral struggles eat away at her. Her own art suffers, culminating in a breakdown and her retreat to her parents’ home. Norah’s future looks decidedly dim until the timely arrival of her Uncle Robert, a bachelor and energy entrepreneur who takes her with him to North America, where she recovers and rediscovers her passion for art.

But Fate seems determined to draw Norah and William together, and Norah must struggle to make sense of her feelings and face a final, most difficult choice: to follow her heart or to preserve the artistic life she has worked so hard to achieve.
The Pleasure of Water is a lyrical exploration of the conflicts between emotional fulfillment and creative freedom set in the time of Clive and Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Wyndham Lewis.

Manuscript available
Rights: World