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message 1: by Tracey (last edited Feb 03, 2018 04:53AM) (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) | 237 comments Mod
August 2016: Wild Animals I Have Known by Ernest Thompson Seton(1898)
I was somewhat disappointed by this book but regardless, it was still a good insight into the natural animal world in parts of Canada 100 years ago. The author had a real talent for observation of the animals he came to 'know' and described what seems like commonplace animal activities, to be activities with real meaning to the creatures and their life. Social order, communication and bonds were seen and recorded.

Sept 2016 A Candle to Light the Sun by Patricia Blondal (1960)
I only rated it 3 stars because I did not like the story as much as hoped when I started reading. Based solely on the author's writing I would have given it 4 stars. At times the book was profound and at other times it lost me.
The generation following WWI and up to and after WWII was a generation lost. Trying to find meaning in life and their place in it. I loved David and Uncle Ian the most. These two were the most real to me and their struggles the ones that I found interesting.
"Learning and the city; the one rotted religion; the other destroyed character."
The book has two parts to it and the first book (part) was the one I enjoyed the most.

Oct 2016 The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler (1954)
I loved this book both for the quality of the writing and the sensitively drawn characters. This book touched me at a deep personal level which is the reason I give it 5 stars.
The story is centred on a family and the community they live in within a valley. The valley is where they all live but it the mountain that represents their own struggles with personal demons and fears. Each one is scarred and flawed in some way and yet each one is needed.
David feels things painfully because he overthinks things. His intelligence does not compensate him for physical weakness (a heart condition from birth possibly) until at the end of life when he recognises that he also has something to give.
The story is separated into sections, the title of each signifying the major theme of that section.

Nov 2016 Peace Shall Destroy Many by Rudy Wiebe (1972)
I thought I would like this book I chose for the New Canadian Library book group I set up.
I was pleased to discover it was better than even expected.
The main protagonist is a young man called Thomas Wiens. The story is told over one year, 1944, in a Mennonite community in Saskatchewan. Many other characters are drawn well also.
WWII is raging and the story is centered on whether or not it is correct to be a conscientious objector Through this the author draws in many threads including what following Christ means in a world where war and strife exists in some part all the time.
Highly recommended.

Dec 2016 Glengarry School Days by Ralph Connor (1902)

After reading the first 2 chapters I was already thrilled with this little gem of a book.

Set in a Canadian backwoods community in the late 1800's, the story centers around the school, the pupils and master, and the families. There are spoilers from here on...

The teacher-pupil relationship with the first master, Archie Munro, is inspiring and the 'golden lessons' that he teaches...that the man that remains master of himself never knows defeat.'

I loved the chapter called, 'Examination day; ' The examination was the great school event of the year...its approach was attended with deepening excitement...'
I don't remember ever feeling that way about examinations. More like deepening anxiety. How great it would be if exams were like this again. Each person doing their best and encouraging others to do theirs.
And as the Master said, 'It is a good thing to have your minds trained and stored with useful knowledge, but there are better things than that. To learn honour, truth, and right; to be manly and womanly; to be self-controlled and brave and gentle-these are better than all possible stores of learning...'

The new master introduced at chapter 4 was certainly different. I did have some sympathy with him at first as it is never easy taking over a position that was previously held by someone loved. However, he soon lost my sympathy by his behaviour. He not only belted Thomas, the brave young fellow who volunteered to take the whipping for his younger fellow pupil, but he also little Jimmie who he volunteered for.

Connor's masterful description of the minister's son, Hughie and his descent into the clutches of the manipulative 'Foxy' and then his inner turmoil, makes this book more than just a sweet book of delightful nostalgic tales. It becomes a book of deep human understanding. Everyone of us at some time in our life has done something that we deeply regret and which burns a hole in our very soul if we don't take it to the Lord and the one(s) offended. I squirmed and ached every step of the way with Hughie and rejoiced with his emancipation. As Mrs Finch says, "It is a graund thing tae be free, is it no.' Masterfully done by one who knows the Master.

The description of working and being with the Finch family was also very well done. I have experienced similar myself and felt peace simply by reading about it. The Lord gave us work for a blessing and Mrs Murray and Mrs Finch both understood this principle. Connor obviously has a 'mother-love'. He either had a mother of great virtue and wisdom or else he didn't but knew of such in other families. Either way, he put mother at the centre of a loving strong healthy family.

The conversion of John Craven and the shinny match were well written. I was caught up in the excitement of the match and the way Mrs. Murray and Mrs. Finch ministered to others in a quiet feminine way. It was interesting to read that according to Hughie's mother, the purpose of the game was 'to teach the boys to control their temper.' and that 'he that ruleth his spirit it better than he that taketh a city.' I wish sportsmen today observed this philosophy.

Overall, wonderful well written book with deep understanding of the emotions and ideals of a community of people trying to live according to their beliefs and principles. This book is a keeper.


Jan 2017 The Lost Salt Gift of Blood by Alistair MacLeod (1976)

Not being able to obtain a book that I was going to read with the NCL group here on Goodreads, I decided instead to read this one.
Some of the stories I had read before in another collection but still I enjoyed re-reading them. Of the ones new to me, each one I enjoyed, both the story and the quality of the writing.
MacLeod has a keen eye for the everyday things of Maritime Canada, and the people and complexities that bind them. My especial favourite was The Boat.

Feb 2017 Barometer Rising by Hugh MacLennan (1941)

I knew nothing about the role of Halifax as a major port during WWI or the explosion that occurred there in December 1917. This part of the story was well written, slowly building up to that fatal day. There was a love story enmeshed in with this which I did not feel was as well written. The ending was also not to the same standard. This was the first novel by this author and based on the potential I saw in the first part of the novel, I would definitely read another by him.

Mar 2017 Last of the Curlews by Fred Bosworth (1963)

I finished this short little book last night. What a little gem. So many thoughts came to mind reading it and I learnt a lot concerning flight and the arduous life of migrating birds.

The book has story chapters interspersed with updates from bird protection and scientific societies recording how this once abundant bird had been slaughtered to possible extinction in the later half of the 19th century. The art work was good but I would have liked a map showing the journey of the Eskimo Curlew and the areas of trade winds and ocean currents. Otherwise, a real little gem which is getting a 5 from me based on others of its genre. Good writing, informative and engaging.

Apr 2017 Antoinette de Mirecourt by Rosanna Leprohon (1864)

First published in 1864, this Canadian classic in back in print. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale of 'secret marrying and secret sorrowing' set in Quebec in the late 1700's.
This tale is more than just a story of romance but also a tale of relations between the French and English at this time; England had just won the struggle between the 2 countries over sovereignty of Canada. It is also a tale of being true to one's family and beliefs.
If you like Louisa May Alcott or even Georgette Heyer, I believe you will like this.

May 2017 Tay John by Howard O'Hagan (1987)

This is a rather complex book which I struggled to read and in the end decided was only worth 2 stars. The descriptive passages of the struggle and wildness of the Canadian region of the Rockies was beautiful and is more deserving of 4 stars but the story itself I found to be disconnected and unrealistic. It was also a sad story.

Jun 2017 This Side Jordan (1960)

I didn't know what to expect with this book but I loved it. Laurence seemed to be almost prophetic in her writing about the 'Africanization' of colonial Africa. This book is concerned with the time period leading up to the independence of Ghana after being a British colony. The thoughts and feelings of the British as they were being replaced and those of the Ghanaians was most interesting.



Jul 2017 Street of Riches (1957)

I didn't enjoy this books as much as The Tin Flute but still a good book. The title itself tells one that Roy believed her growing up experiences to be something to treasure, and those little gems are scattered throughout the stories waiting only to be picked up.

My favourite stories were My Whooping Cough, The Voice of the Pools and by Day and by Night, and the scene in Gadabouts, where Maman meets again her childhood friend, was very touching.

Quotes:
'...revealing to me that sorrow has eyes the better to see how lovely is this world!'

'...almost always throughout my life I have been unable to hear a human say, "I love..." without feeling my heart contract with fear, and wanting with both arms to clasp that so sadly vulnerable being and protect it.'


message 2: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 195 comments I have not heard of the September book, but I really like all of Margaret Laurence's work, so if it is anything like hers it should be good. Sounds interesting.


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