U.S. Review of Books
This is a collection of clear-eyed, often humorous and always affectionate essays about the rural community where the author lives: the local wildlife, people who make a difference and daily life in general. It provides pleasant weekend reading for anyone: for those who live in similar areas as well as for those who live in a large city.
Margaret Blair presents a charming mix of stories about animals, nostalgia, and history in her collection that will make the reader think about the past and marvel at the miracle of nature. The collected pieces are an anthology from the author’s essays, most previously published by a local magazine in her home in Central Canada, and she mixes fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in her book. Her prose and writing style is informative, clear, and it captures the reader’s interest.
The book is divided into three main sections, by topic. In some of the stories, Blair stresses the connection with the natural world. Some are sad and tug at the reader’s heartstrings, as in the story called “Family Reunion,” about a mother raccoon who gets injured but is still determined to care for her young. In a piece called “How Much Would a Woodchuck Chuck," the story is about the importance of sharing our land with groundhogs and other wildlife.
Some of the stories have a decidedly historical flavor, as is evident in several vignettes concerning William of Malmesbury (1095-1143), who was a famous writer and a historian for the abbey, or a piece about Agnes Macphail, a Canadian woman, who was a social justice and equality rights champion.
Blair also waxes nostalgic, as in the story called “Raggedy Ann, Golliwog, and Little Black Sambo,” where she reminisces about old toys and dolls that she had as a child and that are not manufactured anymore. This is a good collection for history lovers and for those who like bite-sized pieces of writing.