Budgell launches first novel in North West River
The Interpretation Centre in North West River was packed as people from the community arrived for the official launch of 'Dear Everybody,' the first book written by Anne Budgell.
Budgell held a release late last month for her debut novel.
© Derek Montague
Anne Budgell (forground) recently released her first book, titled 'Dear Everybody' (see inset). She released the book in North West River - where the story is set - late last month. She read an excerpt from her book to those who attended the launch.
'Dear Everybody' - released by Boulder Publications - is the remarkable true story of Barbara Mundy Groves, a New York socialite from a wealthy family who, in 1944, came to Northwest River to volunteer at the local Grenfell Mission.
Remarkably, Barbara would fall in love with trapper Russell Groves and would choose to stay in North West River, rather than returning to a comfortable life in lush Park Avenue. During her time in Labrador, she fell in love with the Labrador way of live. She even spent time on the trap line with her husband for two winters.
Even before the book launch, many people in North West River had already read the book and have been giving rave reviews to friends, family, and fellow book readers.
Budgell is a retired radio and television journalist who hails from North West River herself. Using the mountains of diaries and letters that the late Barbara Mundy Groves left behind, Budgell was able to craft the incredible tale of a New Yorker who transformed into a true Labrador woman.
With the help of her friend Marjorie Groves - Barbara's daughter - Budgell began researching the story six years ago, after retiring from her broadcasting.
It took six years of hard work to assemble Barbara's amazing life story. But it was a challenge that Budgell found rewarding.
"My years as a journalist helps me recognize a good story," said Budgell. "And I knew it was good story, I knew people would be interested."
"It was like putting a puzzle together. There'd be gaps and I'd find out about her (life) and fill in those gaps."
Budgell, being from North West River and being close friends with Marjorie Groves, knew some things about Barbara before she started working on the book. But after reading the diaries and letters, even she was amazed about some aspects of Barbara's life.
"All I knew was that Russell was a fur trapper and that Barbara was from the United States," says Budgell. "I didn't know she trapped."
The more Budgell read about the out-of-place New Yorker, the more admiration she gained for her.
"I'd say she was open-minded, generous, and adventurous for sure," said Budgell.
"The thing that impressed me was that Barbara spent two winters on a trap line...a lot of women didn't do that. She accepted the conditions and did her best."
The following is an excerpt from 'Dear Everybody' in which Barbara describes in a letter home, a trip to the hospital in Goose Bay. In order to get to the hospital, the New Yorker had to travel via dog team and komatik sled.
"For most of January I was either in bed or up feeling half dead- no gumption to do anything. I was all stuffed up and got quite deaf. The weather was awful, so I couldn't go up to base, and after about a week of treatment by radio, I was bundled into a komatik box (like a coffin without the lid!) and off to the hospital I went with Sid Blake. I felt like a fool and by that time was feeling much better. But it had gone on so long and I was still deaf and had an ear ache, so all thot (sic) it best that I go. Sid was a very nice person to go with - he has that reputation - and saw to it that pillows, blankets, etc. were comfy and that I was warm enough. Even with Mrs. P's (Paddon) fur-lined dickie it was none too warm. Before we left the portage to go out onto the Bay he tucked me all in so I could hardly move! As we went along we saw a long line of Indians on their way to NW. Got up to Goose in a little more than 3 hours and I was stuck into a room miles down an empty wing-most dismal, for even the windows were so banked in snow that about 6" of sky were visible - honestly I didn't know if it were night or day, fair or gray. (Letter: February 17, 1945)."