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 […]

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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 […]

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Ami McKay: The Moth Stories

It’s the book which Moth discovers in Mr. Wentworth’s study in Ami McKay’s second novel, The Virgin Cure (2011): “The Witches of New York was the book I’ found most intriguing.”

“Listing addresses from Broome to Nineteenth Street, it claimed to be a reliable guide to the soothsayers of the city. I put it on […]

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Still the same old story? (On Trials of the Earth)

Mary Mann Hamilton’s Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman was originally writen in the 1930s, recounting her experiences pioneering. The chronicle begins in the 1880s in Missouri, moving into Arkansas, with her being crowded into a marriage, as a wife but not an equal.

Little Brown and Company – Hachette, 2106

[…]

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‘Tis the Season…for Mosquitoes

So, it’s past the middle of November, so I’m surprised to find myself surrounded by so many mosquitoes.

First in the fifth volume of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series, On the Shores of Silver Lake.

Living so close to the land, the other residents are regularly brushing elbows (and paws and wings and other appendages) with the […]

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Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl (2015)

Despite its sedate and unassuming cover, Pauline Holdstock’s The Hunter and the Wild Girl begins in a rush.

Goose Lane, 2015

“With a shriek of splintering boards, the girl breaks into daylight and stands blinded, panting, sucking air as if it were a great hot soup, her chest heaving.”

This sentence and the following pages […]

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Summer Reading To-Do List for Stormy Days (3 of 4)

Such good reading this summer, so far. In other respects, perhaps mine has not been the most productive summer. But it all depends what one puts on a to-do list, doesn’t it! What if your to-do list was all about the books in your stacks?

Cormorant Books, 2015

For coming-of-age devotees: 

Accompany Lawrence Nolan on […]

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On Power: Between and The Massey Murder

Angie Adbou handles multiple narrative voices very well. Readers familiar with her earlier novels, The Bone Cage (2008) and The Canterbury Trail (2011) will know this, having inhabited narratives from varying perspectives. They will also know (as will readers of her 2006 collection of short stories, Anything Boys Can Do) that she embraces the sweat and grit […]

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In the Balance: Will Starling and Punishment

Crimes of the past lurk beneath the stories in Ian Weir’s Will Starling and Linden MacIntyre’s Punishment and the main characters lurch towards and stumble into confrontations and altercations with life-long repercussions.

Goose Lane Editions, 2014

These are both dark tales, but Ian Weir’s novel is literally and figuratively so: “And every step I had taken since […]

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Debra Komar’s The Lynching of Peter Wheeler (2014)

Debra Komar creates a narrative which manages to straddle the line between scholarly analysis and page-turner, relying upon court records, newspapers, and other historical documentation to gather evidence surrounding the murder of 14-year-old Annie Kempton in Bear River, Nova Scotia in 1896.

Goose Lane Editions, 2014

“This book looks back so we can see […]

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