Local writer offers harrowing memoir
Waldoboro — Goose River Press has published a memoir by Camden author Rosemarie Nervelle, whose young adult novel “The Witch of Beaver Creek Mine,” a a Newberry Award nominee, was published by Down East Books in 2007.
“Swamp Robin” is a disturbing true story based on Nervelle’s struggle for love and acceptance from her mother, Lizzie Cromwell, an ambitious mixed-race servant girl seduced by her white, married, employer whose reputation and status in his community would never allow him to acknowledge Lizzie or their child. Lizzie alone bore the brunt of small-town gossip and condemnation and her resentment, contempt and desire for revenge threatened to destroy her illegitimate child.
In “Swamp Robin,” Nervelle looks back on her traumatic young life, reliving the happy times and remembering her struggles through the bad. From Halifax to Harlem and places in between, Lizzie led her vulnerable daughter through a peripatetic, almost Dickensian existence for the better part of 18 years. In sharp contrast, Nervelle lovingly recounts times spent with her grandparents, who desperately try to protect her from their own daughter’s contemptible conduct.
The destructive relationship between mother and daughter; abuse cunningly devised to wreak the most physical and psychological damage; and the author’s determination to survive form the cornerstone of her story. “Swamp Robin” is a harrowing tale that makes, at times, for uncomfortable reading.
Nervelle was born in Digby, Nova Scotia, and raised in Yarmouth and Halifax. She migrated to the United States in 1955 and earned a BFA in Architectural Design from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She ran her own design business, Nervelle Associates, for almost 20 years and retired to Camden in 2000. Nervelle, who is married with two children and five grandchildren, was a member of Camden Round Table writers' group from 2002 to 2006.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or email@example.com.