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The Imperialist

2.48 of 5 stars 2.48  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Sara Jeannette Duncan’s classic portrait of a turn-of-the-century Ontario town, The Imperialist captures the spirit of an emergent nation through the example of two young dreamers. Impassioned by “the Imperialist idea,” Lorne Murchison rests his bid for office on his vision of a rejuvenated British Empire. His sister Advena betrays a kindred attraction to the high-flown id ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published June 1st 1990 by New Canadian Library (first published 1904)
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The romance subplot, though ultimately somewhat superfluous in the book's larger scheme, is well done, striking the right balance of resigned affection for the characters involved. In fact, Duncan amply balances all her characters, so that no one is entirely a stereotype or walking cliche. The imperialist bent of the main narrative is compelling, though largely for a radically different interpretation of early 20th century Canada's potential on the global stage. I have to disagree with the after ...more
This is a solid novel of manners. More interesting, however, is a nation that is coming to grips with an identity that is intertwined with British imperialism.
The middle of this book was rather tedious as the author went on and on explaining Lorne's positive support of imperialism* and his party's wavering position on the issue. I wish Duncan had spent more time on her characters, their relationships, and a little less on political philosophy. But the parts she spent on those things were very good. She writes a little like George Eliot or even Elizabeth Gaskell but with a Modern burnish, almost anticipating Virginia Woolf at times.

(view spoiler)
Set in a fictionalized Brantford at the turn of the century, this 1904 book is something of a mixed bag. I've been having a hard time figuring out how to review it. So instead, I've just jotted some notes:

- Because I live in Brantford I found myself spending a lot of time trying to figure out exactly which bits were based on real locations and people. The footnotes of my edition helped with this, combining with lots of internet searching. It was interesting, but made for a slower read.

- As a nov
Apr 02, 2008 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: school
This book is far too long. The characters kind of annoyed me as well. The only thing that kept me going in this book was the love affair between the minister and the main characters sister. Other than that I wouldn't suggest reading this unless you have to.
Scott Stevens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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