Collective Obsessions Saga: Meet the Characters


John Larkin

Appears in Hearts in Sorrow, The Advent and Quixotic Crossings

John LarkinJohn Larkin was the founder of Larkin City, Maine. He was the first character to appear in the Collective Obsessions Saga, making his debut in Hearts in Sorrow and The Advent, where he decides to leave his native Castletownbere, Ireland for America in 1866.


Prior to leaving Ireland, John inherited the Larkin family cottage in Castletownbere from his father Kevin, as well as the mussel farming business. He bypassed local markets and sold his harvests directly to grocers in Kilkenny, Bantry, Waterford, Killarney, Limerick and Dublin. The profit was comfortable, enabling him to employ four other men. He also made a tidy sum every month dabbling in moonshine production in the Caha Mountains.


John had raven-black hair with sideburns, a cleft in his chin, and azure blue eyes. He was tall (6'4"), and muscularly fit from hard-working physical activity. He was an intense, charming man used to getting his own way and not above manipulating others to get what he wanted. John possessed an iron will, acute intelligence, manic drive and ferocious ambition.


He was betrothed to the beautiful Maeve O'Quinn in 1855. Maeve was the youngest daughter of blacksmith Dary O'Quinn from Bantry, County Cork. Petite and somewhat frail, Maeve was smiling and mysterious with red hair and green eyes. John and Maeve were mutually smitten, but a few weeks before their wedding Maeve was struck down by pneumonia and died within three days.


John was devastated. When Dary offers his oldest daughter Anne O'Quinn in marriage as a consolation to his grief, John accepted. Anne was almost the polar opposite of her late sister Maeve: tall and robust with light hair and dark eyes, she was reserved and plain spoken. She had large feet, and equally big hands which were red, short-nailed and large-knuckled from endless washing and kitchen work.


Since they were nearly strangers, the first year of John and Anne's marriage was a tad formal, but gradually they grew comfortable with one another and developed a warm mutual affection. However, Anne knew from the beginning that John still held the memory of Maeve close to his heart. After a stillbirth and a miscarriage, Anne gave birth to their son Roderick (Roddy) in 1859. After two more miscarriages, daughter Mary Margaret (Molly) was born in 1864. While healthy, Molly was small-boned and dainty, unlike her parents, but very much like the late Maeve O'Quinn.


Once settled in America, John's business ventures became an unqualified success. By 1880, he was a millionaire four or five times over, and his fortune continued to grow at an astonishing rate. In addition to his business ventures, he invested wisely and his fortune blossomed. His future and that of his family seemed to be paved with gold - or as Anne used to say: "John has the golden touch."


John chose a twenty-two mile stretch of Maine coastline between the villages of Searsport and Stockton Springs to create his home paradise. Larkin Village was formally settled in the spring of 1867. John also built his dream mansion. He hired a team of men and horses to plough a six-mile road from Larkin Village into the countryside. He dubbed the road Larkin Highway, secretly amused to have taken the name from highwaymen who robbed travelers. From the highway, he had another road ploughed northward on an incline. Almost one mile in, he cleared an area amongst dense pines and built his mansion. Construction on the house was slow at first because he had several ongoing projects at once. He was financing and developing the village, building homes and businesses, including a lumber company he would own, and cultivating blueberry farms and the production of maple sugar products. Within a year, with Anne's help, the mansion began to take shape. They moved into the massive structure in 1868.


In 1880, John hired Irish immigrant Colm Sullivan to operate his new lighthouse on Banshee Point, a stone's throw from the family mansion. Colm and Molly Larkin fall in love, much to John's alarm. His wants Molly to marry into a wealthy, socially prominent family in order to further his own ambitions. He flies into a rage when he discovers the illicit liaison between Molly and Colm, forcing them to break apart. Too late, Molly discovers she is pregnant and bears twin boys in secret. John arranges for Colm to marry Molly's maid, Maureen Kelly, who claim the twins as their own. After Molly's death by suicide following the death of one of the twins, John continues to quietly have contact with his remaining grandson Mick Sullivan although he never acknowledges him publicly.


John enjoyed extraordinary good health for many years, but a stroke in 1908 confined him to a wheelchair until his death in 1926. John had an affair with the red-haired Amber Whale Tavern owner Lizbeth Bisiker for more than fifty years (1875-1926). She lived at the Larkin mansion after his stroke, and until her own death in 1929.


The founder of Larkin City makes his final appearance in Quixotic Crossings. The ghost of his daughter Molly visits John on his deathbed, cruelly castigating him for his actions while on earth. She also hints he will join her in hell when he dies: "You still have choices, old man. I advise you to use them well in the little time you have left. If you allow your life to end on a natural course, your suffering will go beyond any pain you have ever known. The flames of hell will fan your guilt to searing heights. Use your wits to make the right decision; otherwise you will be forever locked with me in the lowest pit of Hades. The Devil's tomb will be your eternal home."


Her warning prompts John to ask Colm and family chef Claude Mondoux to enter into an unholy alliance to end his suffering, once and for all.

Deidre Dalton

*Author's Note: The physical appearance of John Larkin is based on American actor David Selby. The image is not meant to be indicative of true personality traits of a real person, but rather a general idea of what I envisioned as the "outer shell" of a fictional character.


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