The best books of timeless stories whose settings hold and shape the plot

Annie Daylon Author Of Of Sea and Seed: The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book I
By Annie Daylon

Who am I?

I was born and raised on the rugged island of Newfoundland and am enthralled by the ocean, its rhythm, its power. The setting of The Kerrigan Chronicles is the setting for my early life: same area, different era. As a child, I was unaware of the sacrifices and struggles of my ancestors. During cross-country telephone conversations with my aging father, I heard stories of poverty, illness, and war. When Dad described the earthquake and tsunami of 1929, I was hooked. I have written other novels, modern-day suspense that could quite frankly have been written by other people but The Kerrigan Chronicles are mine and mine alone.


I wrote...

Of Sea and Seed: The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book I

By Annie Daylon,

Book cover of Of Sea and Seed: The Kerrigan Chronicles, Book I

What is my book about?

Set on the rugged island of Newfoundland, Of Sea and Seed takes the reader on a tragic journey through the 1920s as one family struggles with secrets, betrayal, and a tsunami. Chronicling this journey is the family matriarch, Kathleen Kerrigan, who is condemned to an afterlife of atonement for her crimes in life. But what could cause heaven to banish this loving mother, grandmother, and storyteller?

A poetic, literary masterpiece, this first book of The Kerrigan Chronicles illuminates the depths of the human heart as it follows three generations of lives entangled with the sea. This suspenseful account of early twentieth-century Newfoundland is as stunningly lovely as it is devastatingly heartbreaking. Of Sea and Seed is a gripping family saga—an unforgettable must-read.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

A Tale of Two Cities

By Charles Dickens,

Book cover of A Tale of Two Cities

Why this book?

The setting of A Tale of Two Citiesthe peacefulness in London and the Reign of Terror in Paris--shapes this story of friendship and love and mistaken identity which leads one man to give his all for the love of his life. Sydney Carton’s story is haunting and inspiring, an undying source of inspiration for me, a tale which I have referenced in my own work. The writer in me finds further inspiration from the writer Charles Dickens who self-published this remarkable story, serializing it in thirty-one weekly parts, from April to November of 1859, as the lead piece in his own new journal, All the Year Round.


Who Has Seen the Wind

By W.O. Mitchell,

Book cover of Who Has Seen the Wind

Why this book?

Set on a Canadian prairie plain in the 1930s, Who Has Seen the Wind tells the coming-of-age story of a young Saskatchewan boy, Brian O’Connal, as he seeks meaning in life, death, and God. I love this book for its lyrical use of the wind which constantly sweeps across the prairie and through every aspect of the story. This book influenced me as a writer because I hoped to personify the sea the way W.O Mitchell did the wind.


The Crimson Petal and the White

By Michel Faber,

Book cover of The Crimson Petal and the White

Why this book?

Recommended by a book-loving friend in Tai Chi class (Thanks, Shirley) The Crimson Petal and the White is a lengthy yet riveting journey into Dickensian London. The writer invites the reader into the streets at the outset, breaking the veil between narrator and reader, warning the reader “watch your step.” I couldn’t help but accept this invitation and, once there, I couldn’t leave. I followed the narrator through poverty-stricken alleys where I met the Crimson Petal (Sugar, the prostitute) and from there into the world of the White (Agnes, the innocent), two women connected by business magnate William Rackam. A delicious read.


Fall on Your Knees

By Ann-Marie MacDonald,

Book cover of Fall on Your Knees

Why this book?

This book had me at the first line… “They’re all dead now.” Fall on Your Knees is haunted with ghosts and music and religion and set in a dark, lonely coal mining community of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia Canada. From there it meanders to New York and through the no man’s land of WWI, all the while spewing secrets and lies of five generations of the Piper family. The mysterious atmosphere of this book and the compelling characters kept me reading constantly. I couldn’t put the book down until I had consumed all five hundred sixty-six pages.  


The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

By Wayne Johnston,

Book cover of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams

Why this book?

A colleague (Thanks, Rob) recommended this to me because it deals with Newfoundland (my home) and with the romance and ambition of Premier Joseph Smallwood who led Newfoundland to join Canada. I recall Premier Smallwood arriving in my community to preside over a bridge opening. I, age nine, scampered through the crowd and stopped dead in front of a man in a black wool overcoat. I looked up: black fedora; black horn-rimmed glasses. Shocked at almost slamming into the premier, I ran. Only one thought occurred: he looked so small in that heavy coat. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams tells of this small man’s relentless quest for leadership: in the absence of roads, he campaigned by walking the railroad tracks in the dead of winter, ending up skin and bones and darn near dead. My road to my roots started with this reading. 


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Nova Scotia, the French Revolution, and France?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Nova Scotia, the French Revolution, and France.

Nova Scotia Explore 16 books about Nova Scotia
The French Revolution Explore 84 books about the French Revolution
France Explore 589 books about France

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Lord of the Rings, Ninety-Three, and Mansfield Park if you like this list.