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Isabel Huggan.

Ottawa, Oberon Press, c1984.
184pp, paper, $27.95 (cloth), $14.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88750-519-0 (cloth), 0-88750-520-1 (paper).

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Donalee Moulton-Barrett.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

Reading The Elizabeth Stories by Isabel Huggan, is like watching a magician at work. The writing is, at most times, spellbinding.

This collection of short stories focuses on Elizabeth Kessler, a young girl growing up in a small Ontario town. Her parents are the typical straight-laced, holier-than-thou, pillars of the community. Elizabeth is different, and she knows it. Her one desire in life, from a very early age, is to get out of Garten, her home town.

When Huggan unfolds the stories of Elizabeth's life in Garten, it is as mesmerizing as staring at the scarves emerging from a magician's sleeve. You are not expecting it; you do not know when—or how—it will all end, but you are fascinated.

Many of the characters in The Elizabeth Stories, particularly the children, are cruel. Deliberately cruel. In fact, their behaviour is sometimes so unusual in its extremes that it is not believable. When this happens, the story falls apart. You know how the scarf trick is done, and the magic is gone. Fortunately, it does not happen that often. Highly recommended.

Donalee Moulton-Barrett, Halifax, NS.
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