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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

Currently reading

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann J. Lane
Wizard and Glass
Stephen King, Dave McKean
River of Blue Fire
Tad Williams
Richard Ford
Progress: 36/420 pages

Susanna Moodie Roughing it in the Bush

Susanna Moodie: Roughing It in the Bush - Selena Goulding, Patrick H. Crowe, Carol Shields

A subject of fascination for writers like Margaret Atwood and Timothy Findley, Susanna Moodie was a Romantic writer from a celebrated literary family whose life changed forever when she and her husband embarked from England for the backwoods of Canada in 1832. Misled by land merchants, the Moodies discovered that settlement in Upper Canada was far from pastoral, but rather a wild frontier. Utterly unprepared for pioneer life, they soon found themselves starving in a hostile wilderness. With her husband absent in the army during the 1837 Rebellion, Susanna began publishing her writing to feed and clothe her growing family. The result was the novel Roughing It in the Bush—Moodie's aggravated and acerbic testament of pioneer life was praised in England but turned her into a controversial figure. Two centuries later she is now honored as an early feminist and literary pioneer.


***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

This is an iconic Canadian book—I remember coming across it while doing my degree in Canadian Studies. It is also lauded as a feminist book as Mrs. Moodie had no choice but to become a strong and resourceful woman. If you don’t have a taste for 19th century writing or a whole-hearted enthusiasm for Canadian history, but still want to know what all the fuss is/was about, then this graphic novel version is the thing for you!

It’s a painless way to get your little bit of Canadian history and determine whether you want to tackle the original book. You certainly see clearly how unprepared this impoverished English gentlewoman and her army-officer husband were when confronted with the Canadian wilderness. In all fairness, many of the settlers coming to Canada were shamefully misled about conditions here and should probably never have come. I have to admire Susanna Moodie—she withstood more trials and tribulations that I have the stomach for. She lost a child, had her house burn down practically around her, and dealt with thieving neighbours and extreme poverty while raising a passel of children. And if this account is accurate, she seems to have retained a fondness for her somewhat inept husband. I did have to smile at her tolerance for native people and escaped slaves, but her dislike and resentment of her American neighbours. Canadians, making a habit out of disliking Americans since the beginning of settlement. (It’s just a hobby, American friends, we don’t hate you too much).

This graphic novel is not based entirely on Susanna’s journal—the authors consulted her correspondence, as well as the reports on the archaeological excavation of the Moodie cabin site. Well researched and accurately portrayed.