Category: On Books

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?

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Joanne Harris’ — Five quarters of an orange

Joanne Harris’ — Five quarters of an orange

On a farm on the outskirts of a small French village, Framboise, the youngest of three children, survives with her mother by selling their produce on market day. Their father has already been killed in battle, and the Germans occupy the country. While her mother may be a great cook, she has an acid tongue when her eyes rest on Framboise.

What follows after a German soldier witnesses Framboise stealing an orange that turns the entire community against the family?

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.

Shan Sa’s — The girl who played Go

Shan Sa’s — The girl who played Go

A sixteen year old school girl is not interested in marrying her cousin Lu or her lover, Min. All she wants to do is play Go and hang out with Min and Jing — the two boys who are both in love with her.

Waiting for an opponent in the Square of a Thousand Winds, a disguised Japanese soldier approaches and she invites him to play the board game. The game progresses day after day against a background of Japan’s invasion of Manchuria. The soldier becomes intrigued, but nothing can prepare them for their final meeting.

Kate Quinn’s — The Alice Network *****

Kate Quinn’s — The Alice Network *****

In 1947 when Charlotte’s mother escorts her across to Europe for a discrete abortion in Switzerland, Charlotte escapes on a train to London. She clutches an address in the hope of locating her childhood friend, cousin Rose, who disappeared towards the end of WW11 in France. But behind the door of the address she grips is a broken drunk of a woman and an ex con. Can they help her find her beloved cousin?

This is an exciting read made more fascinating by the author’s use of a number of real characters, women who acted as spies during WW1. As well, she wove real events into this well written fiction.

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.