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Ethel Wilson

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1990. 177pp, paper, $6.95
ISBN 0-7710-8957-0. CIP


Ethel Wilson

Toronto, McClelland & Stewart, 1990. 216pp, paper, $6.95
ISBN 0-7710-8956-2. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Catherine R. Cox.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

These are reprints of two books previously published by Macmillan in 1956 and 1960. These new editions are in the "New Canadian Library" series.

Ethel Wilson (1888-1980) lived in Vancouver and set her stories there and in the interior of British Columbia. Her writings consisted mostly of short stories, some of which she expanded into novels. Love and Salt Water was conceived and written as a novel in which the parts of the title are the antagonists. Love prevails over the dangerous sea but not without conflict and sorrow. Following the death of her mother, Ellen Cuppy, the heroine, loses her father to a second marriage. Her own engagement breaks up and she eventually is almost the cause of the drowning of her nephew. Wilson's style is impeccable and the story is as read­able now as it was in 1956.

Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories was the last published collection of Ethel Wilson's fiction. It is a diverse assem­blage of stories, which range from seemingly simple portrayals of every­day life to experiences that reflect the irrational in us all and the malevolence of the world around us. I had forgotten that the story "Hurry, Hurry," which I had read in school as a prime example of how atmosphere is used to create a mood in a story, was written by Ethel Wilson. I never forgot that story but when I encountered Ethel Wilson's writing again later in life reading The Swamp Angel and the story "Mrs. Golightly and Her First Convention" I did not connect her with the fearful marshes and strange man in "Hurry, Hurry." Her writings are marvellously diverse and well worth this re-issue.

"New Canadian Library" paperbacks are now attractive with reproductions of EJ. Hughes' Qualicum Beach and Qualicum on the covers. Both books have a new afterword written by Ann Marriott in Love and Salt Water and by David Stouck in Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories. My copy of Love and Salt Water calls the heroine Ellen Guppy on the back cover. Maybe a second printing will correct that misprint and correctly identify Miss Cuppy.

Highly recommended.

Catherine R. Cox, Moncton High School, Moncton, N.B.
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