The Years That Followed – Canada preview: La Piazza Courtyard & Lounge event

 In Diary, News

The humidity makes me feel like a weed.

I can feel myself wilt as the afternoon progresses. Even in the air-conditioned atmosphere indoors, I still wilt. I find myself longing for Irish rain. And I don’t catch myself thinking that too often…

The Years That Followed – Canada preview: last event in Ottawa

When we arrive at La Piazza Courtyard & LoungeRistorante in Manotick, Ottawa, the huge parasols and the tables and chairs clustered outside are inviting and there is a bit of a breeze – a warm breeze.

But the owner, Frank D’Addario has taken an executive decision and the Ottawa launch of The Years That Followed will now take place inside.

I wonder why the venue has changed. I don’t have long to wait to find out why.

The room fills up quickly – more people arrive than any of us had expected. Not to be fazed, Frank and his staff quickly move more tables and chairs into the restaurant and everyone takes their places.

This is Frank’s first book launch event – and he is alert, watchful, attentive to every detail as he welcomes all comers. He also seems to have a sixth sense regarding the weather. Outside, dark clouds begin to gather.

Austin Comerton kindly agreed to interview me – very informally – at the start of the evening. He has a low-key conversational style that suits me perfectly and we chat and joke for around thirty minutes.

Austin is a stalwart of the Irish community in Ottawa.

There are several other Irish people here, too, including a representative from the Canadian Irish Chamber of Commerce.

There are Italians too, of course. Franco, the chef at La Piazza, has me sign some copies of my novels in Italian for his sister in Milan. It is, as ever, a small world.

I finish the evening’s formalities with a short reading from The Years That Followed and then, all the book launch stuff over and done with, the room erupts into lively, friendly conversation.

I sign books and chat with all the readers who have turned up this evening. Once again, Perfect Books has done a terrific job, with plenty of copies of The Years That Followed and The Things We Know Now displayed on his table. When I glance up for a moment I see, finally, why Frank has moved us inside. The courtyard is deserted. The trees have begun swaying with a lot more energy than earlier and a spectacular light show cracks open the sky. And then the rain comes.

In torrents.

Afterwards, the air is clear and cool. Here, I’ve noticed, thunderstorms don’t always clear the air. Instead, they increase the humidity to an almost unbearable extent. I thought it was just me – that my Irish constitution makes me unable to thrive in this sort of climate. But those who live here feel the same. We all wilt.

We all head for cool, air-conditioned interiors. We all drink iced water by the gallon.

After dinner and before coffee, Austin decides that we’ll have a q and a as a lot of the guests have expressed interest in continuing our earlier conversation.

An interesting debate ensues and it’s almost eleven before the evening winds up. Canadians tend to retire early – so this relatively late night makes the evening even more special.

Before we go home, we sit outside – finally! – in the cool air of the Courtyard. There’s a band playing and some of us even have enough energy for a dance before we leave.

Everyone is happy with how the evening has gone. As we leave, I’m conscious that this is my final Ottawa event and it’s almost time to go home.

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Canada Upper Heritage Village 17th July 2016Catherine Dunne (Photo: Noel Hillis)