From My Bookshelf: Featuring Sharon Butala and Amy Stewart

From My Bookshelf: Featuring Sharon Butala and Amy Stewart

By Lynn Willoughby

Wild Rose ~ Sharon Butala

I read Butala’s first book “Country of the Heart” published in 1984 and didn’t care for either the content nor the flowery style of writing. So I was prepared never to read another. Then this one was handed to me so I thought “Why not?” Having just finished it, I remember why not. There are so many wonderful books to read, why am I wasting time on this??

There is nothing very positive I can say about this novel. It is the story of a young couple from Quebec coming to the prairies to homestead in the 1880s. They know nothing about dryland farming. They do not realize how important water is until after they have filed on their quarter. They know nothing about prairie winters, or use of trees for fuel.

However boring the story is the style of writing is even more irksome. “He stood, a short man, with an officious madder and military carriage, his lips pursed as he pushed his papers this way and that with his fingertips, without making any perceptible progress in arranging them. She could feel his constrained fuming from across the table between them and her familiar woman’s patience in dealing with difficult men settled into her chest and forehead, even brought a measure of calm, as something she understood.” Can you imagine 395 pages of this??

Other reviewers seem to be split. Some felt just as I did, others called the writing “haunting, elegiac and rich with detail….”

  • The Perfection of the Morning
  • The Girl in Saskatoon

…….and others

Girl Waits With Gun ~ Amy Stewart

Life for women in the early 1900s was incredibly different, often difficult and very stifling. For Constance Kopp it was even worse – she didn’t fit the mold in any way.

Women were expected to look after the household. Constance has no interest in cooking, dusting or sewing. Her sister Norma loves the outdoors, loves animals and takes to breeding carrier pigeons. The youngest sister, Fleurette, sews and makes amazing fashions with the little she has to work with. But the three sisters living together on the family farm have no man to look after them.

Of course the hook here is the title, and it caught me. But it is a lively book and doesn’t take long for the action to start. Fleurette is driving their horse and wagon in town when she is hit by a motorcar. All, including the horse, are unharmed, but the wagon is in ruins. And when Constance sends a bill for $50 for repairs to the wealthy businessman driving the car, he refuses to pay. The action really begins here as Constance is not about to let this go. They can’t afford it!

I loved the quirkiness of each of the women. And I loved that it is based on a true story. Even though the plot is sinister, there is something lighthearted about the book – the garden, the pigeons, the train travel, the sleazy, brick throwing hooligans. There is also kidnapping, shots fired in the dark and the terrible lives of the silk dyers.

But once six foot tall Constance is given a gun, and all the ladies end up “packin”, it does have a somewhat predictable ending. I hope to see more or these women – a sequel perhaps? If you liked “The Sisters Brothers” you will love this one.

  • The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Best Drinks
  • Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects

………and others

Who Knew?

Homing (carrier) pigeons have been known to travel 1800 km to return home. They generally travel around 80 km per hour but in races have clocked in at speeds up to 140 km per hour.