Hat Girl

Hat Girl



About the book

  • Winner of the H.R. Percy Prize in the 33rd Atlantic Writing Competition

Pertice McIlveen, a young Ontario woman who loves Hemingway and hates hats, receives a mysterious key in the mail. Accompanied by her best friend Es, she travels to Gannet Island off the coast of New Brunswick to find the door it fits into. There she discovers a charming cottage by the sea has been willed to her by a secret benefactor identified only as PM, on the condition she wears the hats that come with it. She accepts the challenge, leaving behind her life in Toronto and moving into Honeysuckle Cottage. As she seeks to solve the mystery of PM, Pertice is gradually changed by the hats she wears and the islanders she meets. With the help of Charlotte, the proprietor of the local bed and breakfast, her artist husband Will, and two men caught between land and sea, Pertice discovers a new kind of grace under pressure.

About the author

Campbell, Wanda

Wanda Campbell was born in South India and came to Canada at the age of ten. With her husband and three daughters she has camped in the National Parks in every province in Canada and has lived and worked in New Brunswick and Ontario. She now lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where she teaches Creative Writing at Acadia University in view of the highest tides in the world. She has published three collections of poetry: Sky Fishing, Looking For Lucy and Grace. She has also edited literature anthologies for Penguin and an anthology of early canadian women poets called Hidden Rooms. Her creative work has appeared in journals from coast to coast including Antigonish Review, Dalhousie Review, Descant, existere, Fiddlehead, Gaspereau Review, Grain, Harpweaver, New Quarterly, Queen's Quarterly, Room of One's Own, Vallum, Wascana Review, Windsor Review and in the anthologies Body Language and Landmarks.


“I just got a key in the mail.”
    “A key to what?”
    “I don’t know.  Just a key.”
    “What do you mean, just a key?”
    I looked at the key intently, turning it over and over as if there might be some inscription or clue.
    “Maybe you won a new car,” Es said, laughing.
    “It doesn’t look like a car key.  It looks like a key to a door.”
    Es held out her hand for the key.  As usual, her fingernails had spectacular designs on them, not the press-on kind you got out of a package, but designs she paints herself with different colours of polish.  Lately, she has been working on Van Gogh motifs—sunflowers, swirling stars, black crows descending on golden wheat.  When I complimented her once, she said, “Shhh, they’ll be wanting to hang them in the ROM!”
    “Who’s it from?” Es asked, looking closely at the key.
    “It doesn’t say, and there’s no message.” Es began to hum the theme from the Twilight Zone.  I picked up the empty envelope and read the return address out loud.  No person. Just a place. “Honeysuckle Cottage, North Head, Gannet Island.”
    “Well, that doesn’t sound too scary,” Es said. “Where’s Gannet Island?”
    “I have no idea.”


Winner of the H.R. Percey Prize in the 33rd Atlantic Writing Competition, Wanda Campbell poetically captures the voices of the east coast islanders and the rhythms of island life, creating a charming, quirky world seen by a come-from-away. Travel to… >>

First Fiction Fridays, Literary Press Group of Canada

Willingness to change (or not) is a recurring theme in this entertaining debut novel, published by a small Winnipeg-based literary house.

After its protagonist, 21-year-old Pertice McIlveen, discovers a mysterious key in her Toronto mailbox one summer… >>

— Jennifer Pawluk Winnipeg Free Press

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