Review by Barb Collishaw
Seymour Hamilton’s The Hippies Who Meant It opens at a dramatic confrontation during an anti-war rally, where we meet the three main characters, Dick, Joe and Beth. They come from widely different backgrounds and only chance has thrown them together. A brightly painted VW microbus (definitely another main character) takes them to a new life in Nova Scotia.
They settle on a hillside called the North Mountain and manage to keep themselves alive and mostly happy through some tough winters and much coming and going. From a variety of backgrounds and places, some are more skilled than others at doing what is needed, such as building houses and raising crops and animals. Over the years, they learn a lot about farming and about each other and themselves. Yes, there is drama, too, some quiet and some extremely noisy. The novel’s characters are all distinct personalities and the descriptions of places and events are vivid and clear.
What does it mean that they “meant it”? I think it’s the idea of perseverance, despite hardships and social ostracism. They preserved their ideals, mostly, and most of them stayed on their homesteads or came back regularly to visit. In fact, their real-life counterparts still gather for a midsummer festival and reunion. The folks depicted here are roughly based on some people Seymour Hamilton knew or heard of, when he was an associate professor at a Nova Scotia university. He was a little older than that crowd of back-to-the-landers, but knew them pretty well.
Does just looking at this colourful cover make you nostalgic for those days of youth and freedom? If so, you’re probably the target audience for Seymour Hamilton’s novel, The Hippies Who Meant It. I was a little too old and much to square to be a hippie myself, but I certainly knew a few, and the culture of the late 1960s was full of them and their exploits. I am sure this book will find its audience among baby boomers, but it is a sufficiently universal tale of human beings and their relations with each other that all generations will enjoy it.
Reviewing this book gave me an opportunity to meet Seymour Hamilton, a fascinating local author with a varied background, and years and years of writing experience. The Hippies Who Meant It is available on Amazon, or directly from Seymour at his website, where you can also find out about all his other novels.