Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor

I just completed the Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor, by Sally Armstrong, my 17th read for the challenge. This is an epic true story about Charlotte Taylor, who was considered the first woman settler of the Mirimichi (the Baie de Chaleur which is now part of New Brunswick) as written by her great great great grandaughter Armstrong. This was a wonderful novel, chronicalling the life of of Charlotte and her journey from England escaping with her lover, the family's butler, to the West Indies where he dies and she is left alone and pregnant, to her journey to Canada where she settled and eventually had their child Elizabeth and another 9 more children leaving a long ancestry in Canada. I really enjoyed this novel and always looked forward to finding out what challenge Charlotte was going to face next and how she would overcome the obstacles placed before her including husbands who died way to young and securing the deeds to the lands she cleared and which supported her growing family. Armstrong's amazing writing honours Charlotte's strong character and allows us to follow Charlotte's story seeing her beat the odds and achieve essentially all that she set out to do. It also honours the connection the native people of the area and how their history became intertwined with that of the British settlers who wanted to own land. A great read and highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wild Geese

This is officially my 16th finished read for the Book Challenge and it was a great story. Set in the prairies of Manitoba, this novel written by Martha Ostenso was first published in 1925. It follows the story of a farming family lead by Caleb, the father and controller of all who live under his roof. He is a tyrant, a bully, not only to his family but to the farming community where he lives. He wields his unique brand of power especially over his wife, essentially bribing her to do as he wishes otherwise he will reveal her deepest secret and bring shame to the entire family. While this secret would be scandalous at the time this story was released, this same secret would not be were this set in the present day. Caleb is a character I despised, yet I loved reading this book to see how the power of love and passion can alter the future of those he tries to keep under his thumb. I would recommend this book.

I did not end up finishing A Fine Balance, having had to return it to the library, however I have started on the Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong which was lent to me by Kristin and which I am enjoying so far.