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Marian Fowler.

Toronto, Anansi Press, c1982.
239pp, paper, $9.95.
ISBN 0-88784-091-4.

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Phyllis James.

Volume 10 Number 4.
1982 November.

Marian Fowler, who won the Canadian Biography Award, shows her ability in interpreting the lives of five gentlewomen immigrants who influenced Canadian life and who in turn were changed by the physical power of the country. The British background of these upper-middle-class women of the nineteenth century taught them to be submissive, sentimental, passive, and refined, but to survive in early Canada one had to be brave, aggressive, and resourceful.

Each represented a separate personality, yet all adapted in some measure. Elizabeth Simcoe, an intellectual, studied botany. Her paintings, created in Canada, gradually showed more emotion as she slowly learned independence and love of the freedom of the wilderness. Catharine Parr Traill, optimistic like Robinson Crusoe, at first hated the forest, feeling safer indoors with her embroidery. But when her husband died, her writings denoted a brighter side in her personality. Susanna Moodie, most known for her writing, had to earn to help her inept husband. She, in turn, learned physical courage, then reconciled herself to the country and the natives. It was Anna Jameson, at first lonely and self-pitying, who published scholarly writings and became one of our early feminists. Lady Dufferin, arriving later during the Victorian times, rejoiced in the industrial growth of the country. Shallow and stuffy, she must be accepted also as one of our fore-mothers in a country that shaped her as it did other duty-bound gentlewomen.

It is the erudite style of Marian Fowler that appeals to those who enjoy Canadian history. Her skilful use of metaphors brightens the text. The reader becomes aware of the impact of the country on these sheltered women and their eventual influence on following generations.

Included are photographs of the women and their art work. A complete set of notes and index proves the numerous references used. A useful reference book for anyone who appreciates Canadian history.

Phyllis James, Qualicum Beach, BC.
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