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Purple Springs: 12/14/14

cover art

In the December email that John Mutford sends out at the start of each month to participants in his Canadian book challenge suggested that we should read a Nellie L. McClung book. He listed two titles: Sowing Seeds in Danny and The Second Chance as both are available online. I decided to see what I could get via my library and found Purple Springs via Link+.

My first impression of Purple Springs by Nellie L. McClung is that it's Anne of Avonlea for adults. At it's most basic it's about a young woman having returned from teaching college, ready to tackle her first year of teaching. After being rebuffed by her fiancé of three years, she sets off on the world of suffrage, temperance, and teaching.

Because she has the respect of the men around her, a good solid education, and enough self respect to withstand countless setbacks and rude statements, Pearl is able to say and do things that most women around her can't — or have stopped trying to.

According to the introduction, Purple Springs was inspired by the author's own time working in Winnipeg politics, in all the things her protagonist also works in. But as it's omniscient, third person fiction, she records the arguments for and against feminism with other characters, letting them sit there for the reader to sort out.

Along with campaign for women's rights, are the poetic descriptions of the harsh but beautiful prairie landscape. To this Californian, the landscape she paints is similar to central California but colder, darker, and snowier. Along with the harsh beauty is the isolation that many women and their children face: left alone during the winter months, with only the party line telephone.

The worst case is Mrs. Paine whose husband works in Winnipeg, leaving her and their son on the homestead with only the funds she can make from selling butter. He's trying to buy a hotel in the city but has given no thought to what his wife and son might want and with the law of the time, he can sell the house right out from under them and take the son with him without her input as she has no right to property or even her children.

Another woman, a widow and the owner of the eponymous ranch, pretends to be an unwed mother as its the only way to have legal rights as a parent over her son. Her father in law was willed the rights to the raising of her child when her husband was killed in a train derailment. It is better to withstand the ostracizing that comes with being an unwed mother than it is to lose her son to a man who barely knows her child and didn't approve of the marriage!

Five stars

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Comment #1: Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 21:43:27


Awesome, I'm glad you took up the challenge, but even more so that you found a book you really enjoyed!

You've made me very happy!

Comment #2: Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 19:17:14


I'm glad I did. I've certainly found a new to me author whose books I want to read. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter and have been carrying the book around everywhere for the last four days.

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