I graduated from Little Flower Academy in 1964. I'm a lesbian. I was then too, but times were different, including lectures in religion classes about not having any 'special friends.' i was far too afraid to let anyone know i was lesbian then. and that fear eventually became part of the motivator to live my life as who i was, living outside the lines. It also motivated me to participate in and support the work of ending discrimination based on sexual orientation in Canada.
[I wrote this on Thursday 29 April, when the story was still breaking. Some of the information i had then wasn't accurate. the link above gives the current situation, and additional information]
i'm appalled to read about LFA's refusal to grant parental leave to Lisa Reimer, and then altering the terms of her contract, requiring her to 'work at home.' And since i'm sure there will be LFA administration and alumnae officials reading this post, don't send me any more solicitations for financial support, nor information about your alumnae association. i won't associate myself in a positive way with LFA again, except to say to people that part of the reason i am who i am, and part of the reason i am writing this letter, is because at LFA i learned that women had minds and the capacity to speak for ourselves. the bigotry that was also taught, i've left far behind.
Michael Poole, Rain Before Morning, Harbour Publishing: Madeira Park BC, 2006
I loved reading Romancing Mary Jane, which i heartily recommend to you. I loved reading this novel - an examination of principle and love, of desire and fulfillment, of the pain of war.
In graduate school, studying Canadian History, I became fascinated by the Wartime Elections Act, which was a serious blot on the already muddied escutcheons of the Government of Canada. R.B. Borden and his henchman [oh-mh-god i can't remember his name - i'll look it up] decided that conscription was the only way they were going to be able to keep their deal with Britain to supply soldiers and pilots. The brought considerable and long standing fractiousness to the fore. It was not enough to have Quebecois pissed off, but the politicians decided that bringing the war home would help with the conscription problem. They gave a vote in the 1917 election to the women closely related to the members of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces who until this time had not been enfranchised for federal elections. And they took the vote from those immigrants who had been naturalized since 1911 and who's homeland had been anywhere in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and who spoke one of the languages of that sprawling political construction.
Many young men did not believe that this was a just war, and did not want to submit themselves to conscription.
This novel is set in a slightly modified Sunshine Coast [the one in British Columbia Canada] in the first decades of the 20th century. A boy and a girl have become almost adults and take their love seriously. The consequences unfold in their intimacy and in the intervention of the First World War in their lives.
I thought often as I read about the boys and men who came to Canada during the Vietnam War. I thought about the decisions they made to leave their country, and not to participate in what they saw as a mistake. I thought about the men and women of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan right now.
Louise Penny, #5 in the series. I await #6 in the series. And I want it NOW!
This novel is difficult because one of the dearer of the characters in the previous 4 books comes under suspicion. Penny handles the plot's twists and turns, tangling minds and humours, frustrating our attempts to figure out what the heck is going on. Until, believably, she wraps everything up, well just about everything, and leaves us panting for more.
What can I tell you? Louise Penny is a wonderful story teller, her books are engaging, the characters are believable and human. The main characters - police from the Surete du Quebec, and residents of Three Pines, in the Eastern Townships of Quebec - have become a part of those who people my mind.
I'm recommending these books to my friends in the book club, and to anyone else i know who treasures their experiences with books.
Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, Harper Perennial, New York, 2005
natural history of red. Cochineal features hugely. Fascinating, but I haven't quite finished it yet. And still I haven't finished this book [24mar10]. have one more in my stack to go before i come back to the story of Cochineal and dyes and global economics of the 16th century.
Rosella Leslie, The Goat Lady's Daughter, NeWest Press, 2006
I've just wondered why this book is not called The Goat Ladies' Daughter, because both Mag & Florrie are mother to Jen, the abandoned baby they save and raise.
I am in the months of the year now which provide me the opportunity to read whole books in one day as I have a commute of 2 hours going to teach at Capilano U in North Vancouver, and 3 hours going home. This novel was consumed in one day of travelling.
It's a lovely story, well told, if a little bit predictable. What's fabulous about the book is that the sea and boats are so important to the story, along with Sechelt Inlet, Porpoise Bay and Salmon Inlet. The geography, the time it takes to go from place to place in a small boat, the things one has to be good at to make sure one's boat actually functions, these are all the context within which the story of Jen unfolds.
This story could be no where else really. Mag & Florrie live kind of early 20th century homestead based life which is unfolding in the later 20th century. They keep goats, and raise chickens which sustain them, and some of their customers who live in Sechelt. Mag gathers mushrooms, Florrie makes cheese.
Jen is a wee baby when Mag brings her back to the cabin, having rescued her and her mother who has become very ill. Florrie welcomes the child, and Mag takes her mother to the wharf in Sechelt, and gets the taxi operator to take her to the hospital. They never see her again.
You'll enjoy reading this novel. It's a story of how women care for each other and for children. And have a map of the Sunshine Coast at hand. Maybe take a weekend trip to the Coast, and bring the novel.
Louise Penny, A Fatal Grace: A Three Pines Mystery, St Martins Minotaur, NY, 2007
There is a character in this book so unlikeable that I actually hoped she'd be the dead character, and not the murderer. She's cruel and stupid, and turns out to be the mother of a child clearly damaged by that relationship.
The story is set in the village of Three Pines in Québec's Eastern Townships, close to Montreal, with side trips to Montréal. Armand Gamach and Jean Guy Beauvoir, and the obnoxious Agent Nicol return to this second book in Penny's series. The people who live in the village also return, with a focus on three very old women, long time friends and generally old dears.
Penny is very good at presenting a believable complex plot to her reader, and staying with each of the threads as she carefully unravels the tale. However, I still don't understand anything that Billy says. Like other characters, it seems possible that his speaking will be explained at some time in the future, and I feel perfectly comfortable just accepting that Billy is a part of the story, and my patience will be rewarded.
In this 2nd book we do find out about what happened in the Arnot case - which had been mentioned in the 1st book in the series, and then again early in this one. Gamache is a man of prinicples, strong ones, that make him the character he is, a man with a strong moral compass, which leads him to do the right thing.
I've got 2 more Penny novels, but I am a person who likes to read a series in order, and I have to find which is the third book, and locate a copy before I press on. In the meantime, there are other books to read.
Louise Penny, Still Life: A Mystery, St Martins Minotaur, NY, 2005
My sister told me about this writer, and her delightful murder mysteries, some time ago. Not long ago I was at a meeting at a friend's home. He is a bookseller and somehow the conversation turned to Louise Penny. It's a while ago so I'm not certain, but I think he and his partner were talking about holidays they had enjoyed in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, and I asked if they knew of Louise Penny. Came home with 4 of her books. I've read two now, and I love them.
Armand Gamache, a Chief Inspector in the Sûreté in Québec, is a wonderful character, with an interior life that Penny is adept at revealing. In fact, the police, and other characters are vividly drawn, relatively whole people. Penny has made me laugh, out loud. And I've enjoyed the emotional ride.
The story is interesting, the setting both somewhat twee, and interesting as it is Québec, the great Canadian Other, in English, with French. The village, Three Pines, is fraught with frequent murders, as locations for detective stories often are. The story remains believable, the end is not disappointing, and the twists and turns are well plotted so as not to leave the reader feeling they've been tricked.
I like it that some of the characters are visual artists. There are two lovely gay men who operate a bistro and B&B. Some characters are simply outrageous, and their interactions with others are often funny and sharp. It's the intelligence of the writing that produces people one wants to know more of. Thanks to the tendency of many mystery/detective story writers to developing series of books. I get to visit Three Pines, and survive a winter in Québec without having to by a down coat.
I'm writing this after having read the 2nd of Penny's books. I know some of the repeating characters more fully. I have two more of Penny's novels in a bag near my desk; I'll be finding the others.
Betty Keller and Rosella Leslie, Bright Seas, Pioneer Spirits: A History of the Sunshine Coast, TouchWood Editions, updated and revised, 2009.
I loved reading this book. I've lived on the Sunshine Coast [the one in Canada, just North and West of Vancouver BC] for the last 5 years, and many of the questions I've had about this place are addressed by this book.
The first chapter tells the geological story of the Coast: how did the granite get mixed up with other rock; when did the glaciers come through, what did they do; volcanoes here and in the Ring of Fire. I read this chapter to my sister, and not only did we understand what was being described, but the writing was beautiful.
Many of us who live beside the Sechelt and Squamish First Nations will be the richer for reading the brief, but useful, description of the lives lived both before and after 'contact.' In addition the chapter about the mapping of the Coast and the naming of the places by Europeans who did not yet know all the names given their traditional territories by the First Nations is very helpful to the new resident trying to figure out what is where.
Keller & Leslie have scoured their sources for the history they lay before their readers. You will understand thoroughly how logging came to the Coast, and who did what to where. Don't feel like you will be daunted by all the lot numbers. You need not remember them, just remember that if you are trying to sort out what happened in a valley somewhere in the mountains, or on the waterfront in Halfmoon Bay, that number might help you out.
You'll read about each of the resources that have been a part of the economic story of the Coast, and you'll learn more about the people who have lived here. Residents and visitors all play a role in the development of the Coast. The people who owned and operated ships and tugs have always been important to the Coast - for it has always been the case that one travels here only by water. And the goods that have left here have been taken from the water and shipped elsewhere, as well as taken from the land and shipped, or boomed up and towed away.
This will be a valuable book to have in your home, whether your visitors come to a cottage or B&B, or as family and friends to your home from near and far. If you want to be able to tell the stories yourself, read this book. Otherwise, make sure it's on the coffee table, or beside the guest room bed.