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Moodie, Susanna.

Edited by Carl Ballstadt, Elizabeth Hopkins, and Michael Peterman. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1985. 390pp, cloth, $29.95, ISBN 0-8020-2580-3. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Joan Kerrigan

Volume 14 Number 3
1986 May

Susanna Moodie was a remarkable woman. Her life was difficult, even when she was a child in England. She and her husband emigrated to Canada in 1832, and their existence was a constant struggle, particularly from a financial point of view. As a result, much of her writing was produced to supplement the meagre income of her husband, and many of the letters reveal an ongoing worry about money. In spite of her personal problems in raising a family in a strange country with few amenities, Moodie was well a-head of her time in showing a concern for such important social issues as slavery. Throughout her lifetime, she displayed qualities of independence, and she maintained a commitment to the ideals of personal and public integrity. This was not easy, because her husband suffered many injustices in his role as Sheriff of County.

Three scholars, represent ing McMaster, Trent, and York universities, have compiled a series of letters that span her lifetime. They have written introductions to each of the five sections of the book, so that there is a biographical explanation of each series of letters that represent the main periods of Moodie's life. Although she will be best remembered by Canadians for her landmark work, Roughing It in the Bush, she produced a great deal of other material in the form of fiction, articles, poetry, and even children's stories. One of the most pathetic letters is one in which she writes to beg her publisher to consider a child's story entitled A True History of Mrs. Moodie's Racoons Jenny and Ned.

The editors hint that there will be another, more comprehensive, work about Susanna Moodie in the future. In the meantime, Susanna Moodie: Letters of a Lifetime will provide an excellent insight for senior secondary and post-secondary students into the life of one of our most illustrious Canadian women.

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