CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

John Ibbitson
Don Mills (Ont.), Maxwell Macmillan Canada, 1991. 172pp,cloth, $15.95
ISBN 0-02-954025-9. CIP

Grades 4 to 6/Ages 9 to ll

Reviewed by Anne Kelly

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

In 1812, Jeremy Fields is left homeless when his uncle steals the family farm on the death of Jeremy's mother. The fifteen-year-old heads for York. He volunteers to join the British army, and is soon appointed to serve General Brock as batman. Jeremy follows Brock through the war until the general dies at the battle of Queenston Heights.

1812 is Ibbitson' s first novel, although he has published five novellas with Maxwell Macmillan Canada. It is well researched and full of historical detail, yet the plot does not gel bogged down. The writing is dear and the story flows well.

Unfortunately, the novel lacks suspense and emotional impact. Jeremy remains a distant figure, aloof from the reader. This is due, at least in part, to the lack of sensory detail. Even in the scenes that describe Jeremy’s feelings, such as the fall of Detroit and Brock's death, the tone of the book remains cold and uninvolved.

Ibbitson gives the issue of war fair treatment. He describes both the excitement and fear of going into battle. The scene in which Jeremy faces the guns in Detroit is the best in the book. Ibbitson also describes Jeremy's horror when he kills an enemy soldier. Like the book in general, however, Jeremy's reaction is too logical to have real impact.

1812 is a good source of information about the war and life in Canada at that time, but it lacks the suspense to be a truly good novel.

Anne Kelly, Dartmouth, N.S.

line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

francaisDigital Collections / Collections Numérisees francais