Category: Canadian 5 out of 5s

Helen Humphreys’ — Afterimage*****

Helen Humphreys’ — Afterimage*****

When Annie’s strict employer dies in London she travels to the Dashell’s country residence to be their maid. She finds her new employer completely opposite from her London position. The Dashells are not fussy about the state of the house. They don’t set traps for her like her last employer. And they are not religious expecting her to pray daily.

Instead, she fines herself drawn away from the work she is employed to do into Isabelle Dashell’s obsession with photography becoming her model while Eldon Dashell is fixated over maps. Annie’s love of books draws her into Eldon’s world of exploration in his packed library while Isabelle’s selfish demands pull her into a situation she wants to escape. Will she be strong enough to break away?

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Helen Humphreys’ — The lost garden ******

Helen Humphreys’ — The lost garden ******

Gwen leaves her job at the London Royal Horticultural Society during the Blitz and volunteers to oversee a group of girls in the Land Army. She heads to Devon to discover most of the girls are more interested in the Canadian officers stationed nearby than working the land for the war effort. With little confidence in her ability to lead a group of unwilling workers, Gwen finds a friend and supporter in Jane.

This beautifully written short novel deals with friendships and love lost through the experiences of the three main characters and a hidden garden Gwen discovers while she roams over the estate.

Richard B. Wright’s — Clara Callan

Richard B. Wright’s — Clara Callan

After their widowed father’s death in the 1930s, Nora leaves for New York while her sister, Clara, stays behind teaching in Canada. But while Clare is out on a walk, she is raped. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she travels to New York where Nora and a friend help her seek an abortion before she returns to Canada.

After her ordeal is behind her, she meets a friendly middle-aged man she falls in love with. But is he everything she believes he is?

Beverley Gray’s — The boreal herbal

Beverley Gray’s — The boreal herbal

This non-fiction book deals with wild foods and medicinal plants in Canada. It describes how and when to forage for different plants such as chickweed or wild rose.

What I find useful beside the information under each plant are the excellent clear photographs to help identify the right plant. Additionally, at the back of the book are recipes incorporating wild foods, but best of all, is a chart explaining each herb’s health benefit for healing ailments. I wouldn’t be without this book.

Judy Fong Bates’— Midnight at the Dragon Café *****

Judy Fong Bates’— Midnight at the Dragon Café *****

In the 1960s, Su-Jen lives with her parents who run a cafe in a small Ontario town. They are the only Chinese family and while her mother detests the isolation, Su-Jen enjoys her friendship with Charlotte. But once her father’s son arrives, Su-Jen learns a dark family secret. But after her half-brother’s mail order bride arrives, she is plunged into her own misery with a tragic event.

Bernice Morgan’s — Random Passage *****

Bernice Morgan’s — Random Passage *****

When Lavinia’s family lose their fortune, they leave England for a remote settlement on Canada’s east coast. Here they toil beside a handful of residents year after year. With little farmable soil, they depend on the sea for their meagre livelihood.

A well told tale of hardship and survival of early European settlers in Canada.

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Margaret Atwood’s — Alias Grace *****

Grace leaves Ireland to settle in Canada, but family hardship forces her into employment. When she moves away from her family to work for Thomas Kinnear, her life unravels. She is accused, along with another of Kinnear’s workers, of murdering Kinnear and his mistress.

This novel is based on the notorious nineteenth century murder when many believed Grace was evil and possibly insane, while others thought her innocent. So which is it?

Margaret Atwood is a prolific Canadian writer. For me, her two best novels are Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale.