Thanks to the recent heavy rains, I’ve been curled up with these excellent novels, mostly historical fiction, and featuring some of my favourite topics: orphans, Canadian history and Scotland.
Wild Rose, by Sharon Butala
Sophie was a sheltered girl from a well-off Montreal family in the 1880’s when she married hastily and went off to sparsely-populated southern Saskatchewan to begin her married life as a homesteader. Before long she is abandoned by her husband and desperately struggling to survive with her young son. Sharon Butala has been writing contemporary novels set on the prairies for over 30 years; this is her first historical novel.
Orphan #8, by Kim Van Alkemade
Rachel was orphaned at age 4 and sent to the Hebrew Infants Home in New York City. As the story alternates chapters between Rachel’s childhood and her adult years, we learn what happened to her there, and how she still suffers the mental and physical consequences. In a book club summary at the back of the book, Van Alkemade explains the shocking events in her own family that were the basis for the novel.
Tides of Honour, by Genevieve Graham
As World War I begins, young Nova Scotia-born Daniel joins the fighting in Europe and meets a young woman in France. Invalided back to Canada, he works to bring Audrey to join him in Halifax, just before the Halifax Explosion of late 1917, a real event that devastated the city.
The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell
Marnie and Nelly are young Glasgow teenagers with a big secret: their far-from-ideal parents are buried out back. Their story is troubling but often funny as they try to get by without anyone finding out they are on their own.