Tuesday, 13 September 2011

To the Edge of the Sea Book Review

Latest book review by Bill Robertson for the Saskatoon Star Phoenix

To the Edge of the Sea a blend of fiction, Canadiana

Regina writer's debut uses fiction, real life

Regina writer Anne McDonald leans on memories of her childhood summers on Prince Edward Island in her first novel, To the Edge of the Sea. In it, she makes fiction of the actual lives of people both close to, and not at all associated with, the negotiations in Charlottetown, Quebec City and Kingston to forge a confederation of what would become the provinces of Canada.
Reggie, the eldest son, loathes life on the sea, is made physically ill by it, and wants to be a farmer. He defies his father, already bereft of a son, and joins his farmer uncles as they gather to march in defiance of their landlords who bleed off their profits. Here are politics at a local and even violent level.

[McDonald's] strength lies in imagining three young people with vastly different ambitions at a crucial time in Canada's history. And that history is nearly incidental to all their desires. What excites McDonald, and what she conveys, is the sensual excitement these people feel when they touch something they love.

She may be falling in love, but it's the rain falling on Mercy's bare head one night as she marches with the people that thrills her. Reggie loves the feel of the red Prince Edward Island earth and Alex loves the feel of air, how he can train himself to move through it, even lean against it. Whatever their politics - national, local or family - these are elemental people and McDonald has found what they're made of and what they need to hold to.
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Friday, 2 September 2011

CBC Readers Choice Contest for the Giller

The Grand Prize winner of the CBC Readers Choice Contest has just been announced - and they nominated my book, To the Edge of the Sea!

Here are a couple of comments from the CBC Contest and a link to the CBC Grand Prize Winner Contest   Congratulations Helen!

I love history and To the Edge of the Sea has inspired me to want to read Mercy Cole's diaries. The book kept me turning the pages to the very end. The characters were interesting and amazing with a twist at the end I had not expected. Sir John A. Macdonald (who has on his tombstone in London, England "A British subject I was born and a British subject I will die" was made more real to me. A strange Epitaph for the Father of Confederation I always thought. Great book, great cover, great bookmark. Loved it all.    

A blend of poetic technique combined with page-turning, cliffhanging narrative, this novel evokes a seminal period in Canadian history - a time, I might add, that few Canadians know much about. McDonald's prose is fluid and meticulous, the equivalent of sunlight shimmering on the sea, as it illuminates her characters' inner struggles and triumphs. Lyrical, finely crafted descriptions abound, and every page offers the thrill of experiencing a vanished world via the author's unique sensibility.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Theatricals and Spectacles - Canada's Parties

The first circus to Prince Edward Island in 20 years coincided with the arrival of the Fathers of Confederation in Charlottetown on this day, September 1st, 1864.

"The most beautiful Equestrians,
The most accomplished Riders,
The most daring Acrobats,
The finest stud of Horses,
The most learned Dogs and
the most comical Monkeys"

     I wonder what they would have said about the delegates?

To total indifference - see the story on my posting on Christopher Moore's History Blog