Open a book this minute and start reading. Don’t move until you’ve reached page fifty. Until you’ve buried your thoughts in print. Cover yourself with words. Wash yourself away. Dissolve. Carol Shields Republic of Love

Mazo de la Roche’s Morning at Jalna (1960)

Although the last of the Jalna books written, Morning at Jalna is only the second in the sequence.

It is set while the civil war is raging in the southern United States, and readers are immediately informed that the Whiteoaks are sympathetic to the southerners.

In school, during the 1970s and the 1980s, I was […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “A Day Like Any Other” (1953)

There is less than a year between Jane and Ernestine Kennedy, young sisters who “resemble little Renoirs”. They live with their mother, Mrs. Kennedy, who is so preoccupied with caring for their father, that the girls have a minder, Frau Stengel (their sixth).

Jane Wyman in “Das Herz Einer Mutti” 1951Click for source details

Frau […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “Señor Pinedo”

Set in a Madrid pension, after the Spanish Civil War, “Señor Pinedo” has an ensemble cast. But, like many of the other tales in this colleciton, the story is told in the first person, from the perspective of a young woman who shares a wall with the Pinedo family.

Imagining the pension (Madrid)

They live […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “About Geneva”

Even the shortest story in The Other Paris provokes a strong sympathy on the part of readers.

Bill Perlmutter: “Through A Soldier’s Lens. Europe In The Fifties”.Click for source details

At the heart of the story are two young children, Ursula who is older than seven and Colin who is younger than seven.

They live […]

Share

Louis Riel: On the Page, On the Stage

The Canadian Opera Company is now presenting a new 50th-anniversary production of “Louis Riel”, originally written for the celebration of the Canadian centenary in 1967, with an attempt to shift that oh-so-colonial gaze, now including indigenous artists and languages with more nuanced representations of the historical figures.

These are powerfully important figures, and seeing their stories […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “The Legacy” (1954)

Inheritance: a common literary theme. Here, Mrs. Boldescu has died, leaving behind four grown children and a family grocery shop on St. Eulalie Street in Montreal: “Rumania Fancy Groceries”.

Small shops in 1935, imagine “Rumania Family Groceries” on the signClick for source details

Carol and Georgie are the older brothers, and the youngest boy is Victor, who […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “Wing’s Chips” (1954)

This feels like a quintessential Mavis Gallant story: expectations and disappointments swirling around a young girl’s form, as she begins to assemble a set of truths about the world.

The town in “Wing’s Chips” would never make it onto a postcard of Valley-living(Click for source details)

Although the setting appears to be so familiar as to […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “The Deceptions of Marie-Blanche”

If the story were titled “Les Deceptions de Marie-Blanche”, it might be translated as “The Disappointments of Marie-Blanche”: an apt choice.

San Francisco Earthquake, 1907 – Click for source details

And, yet, as it stands, there is the added implication that Marie-Blanche has not only been disappointed by her love affairs, but that the […]

Share

Mavis Gallant’s “Going Ashore” (1954)

For the first time, twelve-year-old Emma Ellinger feels truly connected to her mother. They are finally “doing something together, alone, with no man, no Uncle Anyone, to interfere”.

Tangier, Moracco 1887 Click for source data

It’s true that the cruise hasn’t gone entirely as planned; they have packed the wrong clothes (all summer dresses, […]

Share

The First Jalna Story: Meeting Adeline

In 1944, Mazo de la Roche published The Building of Jalna, nearly twenty years after she began to work with the Whiteoak family on the page. The beginning grew out of the middle, you might say.

Jalna was actually written first, begun in 1925 and published in 1927: the fifth in the sequence of the […]

Share