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Author Event: Suzanne Shea

Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

On Saturday, June 21, 2-4 p.m. meet Suzanne Strempek Shea who will be reading and signing copies of her new book “This is Paradise: A Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both”, a true story about Mags Riordan, an Irishwoman who founded a medical clinic in Malawi in honor of a son who drowned there. At Booklovers' Gourmet, 55 East Main Street, Webster, MA.
Call 508-949-6232 for more information. Free and open to the public.

About the author: Suzanne Strempek Shea is the author of five novels, including “Becoming Finola,” and four works of nonfiction, including “Sundays in America, A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith.” She has been featured on NBC’s “Today,” National Public Radio and Voice of America, and in USA Today and the Washington Post. Her freelance work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ESPN the Magazine, Yankee and Bark. Suzanne teaches at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program and is writer in residence at Bay Path College in Longmeadow, MA. For more information visit

Book synopsis: Your brakes fail and your car plunges from a pier into a frigid harbor. You are thrown to safety but your four-month-old daughter, trapped in her car seat, drowns.

            Four years after that horror, you drive home from a trip to the beach and find your four-month-old son dead in his car seat, a victim of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

            Twenty-two years later, your 25-year-old son disappears while swimming in an African lake and is found dead the next day.

            How do you survive that first death, never mind the second, or the third?

            Mags Riordan would know. The guidance counselor from County Kerry, Ireland, endured those three tragedies, and became changed in a very different way after the third. In 2000, while bringing a memorial stone to the remote Malawian village where Billy Riordan drowned the year before, Mags saw the beauty of the place of which he’d said “This is paradise.” But she also saw the need, including the absence of medical care in an area with one doctor for 800,000 people. Four years later, she founded the Billy Riordan Memorial Clinic in Cape Maclear, Malawi, recruiting an all-volunteer staff of international doctors and nurses who, as the clinic approaches its tenth anniversary, have served 275,000 and saved countless lives.

            “This is Paradise: A Mother’s Grief, an African Village’s Plight and the Medical Clinic That Brought Fresh Hope to Both” is a story about motherhood, loss, grief, healing, and traveling – in many ways – into the unknown, and shows keenly how one person indeed can change the world around her, even if starting with little more than two hands and one broken heart.