Archive for January, 2014

Road Ends

Road Ends by Mary Lawson was the perfect book to read while battling snowstorm after snowstorm, bitter cold and even an ice storm and power failure to add to the mixture. Anyway, back to the book. Set in the 1960s in the fictional Northern Ontario town of Straun, we focus on 3 members of the Cartwright family: father Edward, son Tom and daughter Megan. Mother Emily and young son Adam are secondary characters, yet at the forefront of what is probably the most dysfunctional family I’ve read about in years (with the exception of The Glass Castle – but that was a memoir.) While Emily has baby after baby and slowly slips further and further from reality, it rests on poor Megan’s shoulders to keep the house running and the family fed. The book opens her escape. She wants out of this environment so decides to take a friend up on her offer to come visit London. Brother Tom is suffering from his own demons. Living in a small town, memories of a tragic event involving his best friend are everywhere and Tom just can’t get beyond them. And Dad Edward, oblivious to how his family is falling apart, hides in his study at home, preferring to absorb himself in his books rather than deal with the mess (physical and mental) on the other side of that closed door. The chapters alternate between Edward, Tom and Megan, and this works really well. Sometimes we’re up to our knees in snow,other times were in the swinging 60s in London. I liked this book so much I didn’t want it to end. Lawson is a wonderful writer. Her stories flow easily, have depth and feeling, and it’s easy to see why her other books won such wide acclaim. I  hope this one does too. It’s a great read.

Leave a Comment

In Falling Snow

Sometimes I find little gems just by walking around the bookstore, not having read or heard any info about the book I eventually pick. This was the case with In Falling Snow by Australian writer Mary-Rose MacColl. There were quite a few copies on the shelf which indicated to me that they expected it to be a good seller. This is MacColl’s North American debut novel, and I’m sure it will be well received. It’s a great read. Australian nurse Iris Crane flees to France in 1914 in search of her 15 year old brother Tom who set off to join the first World War. She intends to bring him to his senses and escort him home. But the best laid plans often go astray. A chance encounter at a railway station with a female doctor leads her to the ancient abbey of Royaumont where she ends up working in a field hospital completely run by women. This book is based on historical fact, and it was fascinating to read. There really was a hospital completely run by women during WWI at Royaumont – imagine! Most places wouldn’t even let women into medical schools. Years later, elderly Iris, now back in Australia, receives an invitation to a reunion at the ancient abbey. Filled with memories of friends and hard work in sometimes appaling conditions, Iris attempts to convince those around her that she’s capable of trotting off to France to reconnect with a time that changed her family forever. This is a lovely book. As MacColl says in the Author’s Note – “I think it was Grace Paley who said that any story told twice is fiction.” This is historical fiction at it’s best.

Leave a Comment