Burden of Desire

by Robert MacNeil

This "rich, abundantly humane love story" (Chicago Tribune) centres on a simmering love triangle ignited during the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

Burden of Desire centres on the love triangle between bohemian Halifax south-end belle Julia Robertson, Dalhousie professor Stewart MacPherson, and young Anglican minister Peter Wentworth.

Julia keeps a diary detailing her sexual fantasies, which she has with her at the moment of the blast that was the Halifax Explosion. She hides her diary in her coat, which is subsequently donated to a clothing drive for the individuals from the north end of the city who've lost everything in the explosion. Peter discovers the diary and becomes fixated on its author, enlisting the help of his friend Stewart to find her.

Burden of Desire explores the repression and expression of sexual desire at the time of the First World War. It also offers a compelling fictional account of the impact on Halifax society of the Halifax Explosion.

About the Author

Robert MacNeil
Born in Montreal, ROBERT MACNEIL grew up in Halifax, attended Dalhousie University and graduated from Carleton in Ottawa. Starting as a CBC announcer, he was a journalist for forty years with Reuters News Agency, NBC News and the BBC, including twenty years as Executive Editor of the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour on PBS. He is the author of three other novels, including Portrait of Julia, a sequel to Burden of Desire, and three works of nonfiction. He divides his time between New York and Nova Scotia.


"Burden of Desire is a novel filled with riches and alight with understanding of the small events that lead to the huge upheavals in life -- an intricate, satisfying romance."
The New York Times Book Review
"Burden of Desire is a powerful piece of work . . . A tremendous story, its characters worthy of its grand scope, a compelling tale told with absolutely unflagging narrative drive. Dont start to read if you plan to go out in the next couple of days."
The Washington Post
"MacNeil proves himself a novelist of both large and subtle gifts . . . This is a rich, abundantly humane love story and games of love and death that still go on, with fatal consequences to the species . . . A perfect fusion of events and characters."
The Chicago Tribune

Subjects (BISAC)


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