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Callwood, June.

Don Mills (Ont.), Stoddart, c1984. 277pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-7737-0226-X.CIP

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by Joan McGrath

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

Spy fiction abounds with dashing and sinister James Bond figures daring fate or the turn of a card with equal aplomb, but true spy stories are peopled by sad little misfits like Emma, code-named NORA, an Ottawa cipher clerk in the 1940s, who was seduced into the betrayal of secrets she had sworn to keep, and who paid for her naivete with a sentence of two years in Kingston Penitentiary.

The story of plain, friendly little Emma Woikin, daughter of a Saskatchewan Doukhobor family, is a pathetic one. A child of the terrible Depression years, the golden time of her life centred around her one great love, her hulking young farmer husband Bill Woikin. When the only child she was ever able to bear was stillborn, and after Bill committed suicide, Emma was left with an empty life. Apparently, in all the years that followed, she was never able to fill that emptiness. She moved away from her prairie home to leave her sad memories behind and to find work in Ottawa. Her bewildered entanglement with Soviet agents, and her arrest and the suspension of her civil liberties following the Gouzenko disclosures, at this date arouse more pity for her plight than indignation at her feeble and ill-understood disloyalty. In this unhappy account of a misplaced person who should have spent her life tending the crowded nursery she longed for, but could never have, June Callwood reaches back across the years to this sad woman in forgiving friendship.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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