The Possible World

Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

'Every now and then I come across a book I wish I’d written. The Possible World is one of those... A gorgeously wrought exploration of who gets to tell the story of our lives, and who gets to inhabit that story with us' Jodi Picoult

Ben is the sole survivor of a crime that claims his mother and countless others. He is just six years old, and already he must find a new place for himself in the world.

Lucy, the doctor who tends to Ben, is grappling with a personal upheaval of her own. She feels a profound connection to the little boy who has lived through the unthinkable. Will recovering his memory heal him, or damage him further?

Clare has long believed that the lifetime of secrets she’s been keeping don’t matter to anyone anymore, until an unexpected encounter prompts her to tell her story.

As they each struggle to confront the events – past and present – that have defined their lives, something stronger than fate is working to bring them together...

Near Canaan

Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

‘Intelligent, thoughtful, resourceful’ WASHINGTON POST

Filmmaking student Buddy Whyte never visited his mothers hometown while she was alive.
But in the wake of her tragic death, he can no longer resist the lure of Naples, Virginia. He packs up his car and drives south from New York City with his camera. He means to make a short film about the town – and perhaps learn why Beth Whyte left it, and why she never went back.
Many people in the close-knit community are devastated to learn of the death of Buddy’s mother –not least two brothers, Jack and Gil, who knew her best. Although they live and work side by side, a dark secret divides them, and they have not spoken to one another in years.
Through his camera lens, Buddy captures an unexpected story, including glimpses of his mother that challenge everything he thought he knew. But in a small town where even disparate voices agree that the past is best kept hidden from outsiders, will he actually learn the truth?

Near Canaan is an intricate and multi-layered novel of secrets and memory which explores the far-reaching, inescapable effects of the past.


Liese O’Halloran Schwarz published her first novel, Near Canaan, while she was studying at medical school. Her second novel, The Possible World, was published nearly thirty years later. She currently
lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.