Self-proclaimed bibliophile, culture nut and nerdfighter. English lit. and linguistics geek. Future career in publishing.
Note: The review below was taken directly from my Goodreads account.
Read for a class on British Columbian lit.
Not particularly fond of this novel, I'll admit. There are certain things about it that I do like, such as the awesomeness of our protagonist, Maggie, who decides she's had enough of her abusive second husband and splits on up to the BC interior; a decidedly heroic and brave thing to do in the 1950s for a woman. I liked that the other characters got their little backstories before they were even introduced into the timeline of Maggie's narrative. I also liked that there was a fairly positive representation of Chinese-Canadians, especially when Maggie's in Chinatown and when Wilson writes about their family life. Although, I would have to say that Wayson Choy does it better in The Jade Peony because of obvious ethnic and personal reasons.
I didn't find the character of Vera very likeable, but I think she was meant to be pitiable anyway. I didn't see or find the connection between Maggie and Mrs Severance to be of particular importance or even interest. Hilda can keep on rockin' though.
I think what carries the novel, overall, is the beautiful prose. Wilson writes with extreme technical skill, but also with love: the way she writes about the BC landscape is a great reminder of how gorgeous a province this is, in case you forget. The interactions people have or view between nature, flora and fauna are a delight to read about (in particular, the kitten and the fawn scene), and the relationships these characters develop is kind of a nice view on how human relationships really work. It's sweet and endearing, but also eye-opening (especially in regards to chapters focused on Edward Vardoe).
Well worth the read, but not if you want an exciting plot. We're clearly all relaxed British Columbians here.