Saturday, February 26, 2005

Review - Mable Riley by Marthe Jocelyn

Mable Riley and her sister Viola have travelled from home so Viola can help support the family with her first teaching job in early 20th century Ontario. Eager for excitement and inspiration for her writing, Mable keenly anticipates the adventure and starts a journal to record all that happens. And plenty does. Not everyone is thrilled with the young female teacher, questioning her methods of instruction, while Mable herself makes friends with a scandalous young widow, who cycles and wears split skirts.

Marthe Jocelyn has written a charming story, replete with details of everyday life woven into a well-paced narrative. Her appealing heroine pulls the reader in with her mix of romantic notions and rebellious spirit as she learns about life, love and loyalty. Further strengthening the tale are a cast of well-rounded secondary characters involved in historically relevant subplots. What appealed most was the use of the diary format. When done well, as it is here, it gives the reader a real sense of immediacy and verisimilitude.

Those who have preteen girls to buy books for should add this lovely volume to their list. I know I'm keeping mine for my nieces. Very higly recommmended.

© Teresa Eckford, 2004

This review first appeared in the February 2005 issue of The Historical Novels Review

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