**Mary Ann Alice
by Brian Doyle
Reviewed April 21, 2003.
Groundwood Books, Toronto, 2001. 168 pages.
The Canada Council for the Arts Governor General’s Literary Awards
Brian Doyle’s books have been highly recommended in Horn Book Magazine,
so I checked this one out with interest. Mary Ann Alice
not have a dramatic plot, but it does have dramatic and delightful characters.
Set in the 1920s in rural Canada, Mary Ann Alice
looks at a
community located next to the beautiful Paugan Falls. When the government
decides to replace the falls with a dam to generate electricity, the people
know that it will bring many changes.
The book centers around Mary Ann Alice McCrank, with the soul of a
poet, named after a church bell. Her teacher, Patchy Adams, excites
in Mary Ann Alice a love for geology. He goes searching in the caves
behind the falls for wonderful rocks and fossils that will disappear forever
after the dam is built.
We see the community adjust to the influx of workers and see how everything
changes when the dam is built. We enjoy the quirky characters of
the community, including Patchy’s wife, who longs to be back in her native
This is more a picture of life among these interesting people than
it is a story with a driving narrative thread, so that makes it slower
going and easier to put down. However, the picture is a good one,
and the reader who perseveres to the end will come away smiling.
I’m sorry for this one, but I can’t resist: This is one good
Copyright © 2003
Sondra Eklund. All rights
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