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The Word for Home The Word for Home

Joan Clark

Price: CDN$8.95

(Currently unavailable for purchase)

Hardcover. 286 pages.

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Book Description
It is 1926. Sadie and her little sister, Flora, are struggling with the challenges of a new school, a new town and a life without their parents. They used to live in Canada, but after their mother died, their father decided to try his luck prospecting for gold in the interior of Newfoundland. With no home of their own, Sadie and Flora must stay in a cold, grim boarding house in St. John's, owned by the stern Mrs. Hatch.

Joan Clark has brought us another work of historical fiction which is well worth the read. Set in 1926 Newfoundland, this is the story of two young girls - Sadie Morin aged fourteen and her eight-year-old sister Flora - who are living in a downtown boarding house while their father, a geologist, is prospecting for a new mining operation in the interior of Newfoundland. Since their mother died, Sadie has had to grow up quickly and now that they have moved to Newfoundland from their former home in Copper Cliff, Ontario, and are forced to live apart from their father, Sadie has to assume even more responsibility.

The girls are left to board with Mrs. Hatch, a stern older lady who presents a pleasing personality to the outside world, but who in reality is a rather mean old lady who is still caught up in her sonís untimely death in World War I. At first she treats the girls in a reasonable manner, although the meals leave a lot to be desired and the girls end up doing most of the housework, bu t when contact with their father is lost and the board money doesnít arrive the situation becomes much worse. The girls, particularly Sadie, are also the victims of bullying and fun-making at the strict, upper-class Bishop Spencer School which they attend in spite of the fact that Sadie is tops in her class and eventually wins the respect of many of the teachers. In spite of all this, Sadie develops friendships with Teddy, a boy her age whose parents run the Crosbie Hotel where the girls spent time with their father on their arrival in St. Johnís and during the Christmas holiday; with Millie, a young girl from Heartís Content who is also attending Bishop Spencer School; and Wanda, Mrs. Hatchís uncouth daughter. These friendships mean a lot to Sadie and they stand her in good stead when she has to make some serious decisions. When it seems evident that the girls father has disappeared and Mrs. Hatch and the Rev. Mr. Eagels make arrangements for the girls to go to the orphanage, Sadie decides it is time for her to make her own arrangements for their future.

Clark has presented a very realistic picture of post-World War I Newfoundland. Her descriptions of the streets, the businesses, the activities and the school (Iím sure anyone who attended Bishop Spencer School would agree) are true to the time and give insight into the society and the economics of the era. The characters are realistic and very-well developed. Clarkeís descriptions of them are very strong and present vivid visual images. But The World for Home is much more than this - it is a story of growing up, of facing life without the love and direction of a mother, of dealing with pain and hardship, of making new friends, and finding peace and love. Through the story of these two young girls we are reminded that home has much more to do with the people we love than the place where we actually reside.

This book is reminiscent of some of the writings of Jean Little, Kit Pearson and Janet McNaughton, which focus on young people growing up in the first half of the 20th century and facing losses of a similar kind, yet finding peace and love through their experiences. It will be an excellent read to accompany a study of Newfoundland but more so a book to be read and enjoyed for the wonderful story it tells.

About the Author


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