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Hamilton is the ‘beating heart’ of Pebble & Dove, the moving new novel by Amy Jones.

There’s an inside joke in Amy Jones’s family that she’s jinxed when it comes to spotting wildlife. 

“My parents will go out in the boat and see dolphins and whales and sea turtles all frolicking under a rainbow or something, and then I go with them the next time and see nothing,” says Jones. Her most recent book Pebble & Dove stars the unlikeliest of characters – a once-famous manatee now living in an abandoned aquarium in Florida.

“When they first told me about their experience seeing a manatee while kayaking in the Intracoastal Waterway in Sarasota, where they spend winters, I was determined I would see one. But, of course, for years, I saw nothing!” she says. 

Finally, Jones’s aquatic dreams came true when a mother and baby manatee visited her kayak. “It was such a life-changing experience for me. They are so curious and playful, and yet that’s what makes them so vulnerable. I just knew that one day I was going to write about them.” 

Pebble & Dove, Jones’s third novel, weaves together the stories of three generations of women: Lauren, her daughter Dove, and her enigmatic mother, Imogen, who has recently passed away. A mysterious photograph leads Dove to the abandoned Flamingo Key Aquarium and Tackle where she meets Pebble, the world’s oldest manatee in captivity. 

Jones, who often visited her grandparents in Florida as a child, based Pebble loosely on Snooty, a captive manatee who died in a devastating accident at the South Florida Museum in 2017.

“I love Florida, and even though it’s going through a very bad time now, politically, I was sort of inspired to write this book as a testament to the perseverance and resilience of Florida’s natural environment in the face of everything humankind has been throwing at it,” says Jones.

Despite being set in Florida, Jones says Hamilton is the “beating heart of this book.” Written mostly during the pandemic, Jones says she came up with her best ideas while walking around her neighbourhood, strolling through the tropical greenhouse at Gage Park, getting lost on the Red Hill Valley trail, or huffing her way up the Kenilworth stairs. 

Originally from Halifax, Jones moved to Hamilton a number of years ago, and since then, she’s been “blown away” by how welcoming and vibrant the Hamiton literary community is. 

“I’m a pretty social person, and I love going to literary events and talking with other writers, so that’s really crucial for me,” she says. “One thing I’m excited about, now that we’re able to move a little more freely in the world, is to get back into my coffee-shop writing routine,” she says. 

“This summer you’ll probably catch me posted up at The Cannon on any given afternoon, working on the next book.”

Amy Jones says Hamilton is the "beating heart" of her new novel. Photo:  Pamela Crichton/Ten West Photography


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