Reader Be Thou Also Ready by: Robert James

softcover | 224 pages | ISBN:1-896647-26-X
Year Published:1999 – Broken Jaw Press | Tidewater Price:$18.69 CDN

Reader Be Thou Also Ready is a fictionalized account of the murder of William Fawcett of Sackville in 1832. A third great grandson of William Fawcett, author Robert James breathes life into a long ago family tragedy. Interestingly, James knew nothing of this murder until he came across a passage in Peter Penner’s The Chignecto Connexion. Intrigued, he started to investigate.

William Fawcett’s headstone in the old Methodist graveyard in Middle Sackville and two newspaper articles from the New Brunswick Royal Gazette provided the only known details of the murder. William Fawcett was shot through his kitchen window while reading his Bible around 10 p.m. on the evening of June 19, 1832. Subsequent investigation led to the arrest and trial of his 17-year-old son Rufus. While the evidence was strong, Rufus was acquitted and left the area, never to be seen again.

While the known details are few, and the characterizations speculation, the reader will be fascinated by this glimpse of life in Sackville in the early 1800’s. James aptly details the rewards and difficulties of farmsteading a new land for these recently arrived Yorkshire immigrants. Such well-known names as George, Fisher, Botsford, and Chandler appear throughout. For descendants of these early Sackville families, and for anyone interested in early Canadian history, this novel will prove fascinating.