Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: Stories from Home Schooling by Carol Windley

I honestly don't know how I happened upon this book, except that I always have an eye open for books by Canadian authors. This one seemed especially appealing because the stories are all set in the Pacific Northwest, and many of them are set primarily on Vancouver Island.


The first three stories in the book focus on some upheaval or major change in the characters' lives. These events are seen mainly from one character's point of view, although multiple characters may be affected. At the center of each story is children and their families.

I was rooting for that central point of view character in each story, which was always one of the children, but sometimes there was no real resolution. That is realistic, but I found it somewhat unsatisfactory. Yet, I kept thinking about all three stories after I had finished them. They stuck in my mind. The writing was very good. I would have read the stories just for the author's way with words. 


My favorite of these three stories is "Family in Black." 

It is a familiar story of a family split by divorce and children adapting to two households. The point of view character is Nadia, a teenager as the story begins, out of high school by the time it ends. Her mother leaves her father for a wealthy logging contractor. Everyone in both families has to change and adapt, but this story focuses on Nadia's relationships with her mother's new family, including the new husband's daughter who is about the same age as Nadia. There is also a theme of environmental issues and climate change.

There is a great quote in the story, from a bookstore owner:

He'd always had a fondness for books, he said; the way their spines lined up on a shelf; the prickly sense of expectation and dread in just taking one down and opening it.

I did have one quibble with "Family in Black." The novel, Rebecca, comes up, and the ending is revealed, in detail. I have read the book, years and years ago, and seen the movie, but still that bothered me. 


I also read:

"What Saffi Knows"

A woman remembers events in her childhood related to the disappearance of a child. Very affecting.

"Home Schooling"

A couple runs a private school, but the school is shut down due the accidental drowning of a 10-year-old student. With no students at the school, the school reverts to a farm and the couple continue to home school their teenage daughters. A complex story, and one with a nebulous ending.


I will continue reading the remaining five stories in the next couple of months.




14 comments:

FictionFan said...

So annoying when an author spoils the ending of someone else's book! Even if it's as well known as Rebecca there are always new people coming to it for the first time. I'm currently reading The Old Curiosity Shop, the one with Little Nell, and because the ending of it is so well known it's making it quite hard for me to get fully invested in the story.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The editor should have made her delete the Rebecca stuff. I like the idea of reading about the Canadian northwest though. Alice Munro gets there eventually when she moves to Victoria but I would like to read more from regional writers.

George said...

I live on the border of Canada and yearn for the International Bridges to open again to U.S. traffic. But, with our covid-19 rates so high, the Canadians don't want us to cross the border to infect them further. Like Patti, I enjoy regional writers who illuminate their area.

Margot Kinberg said...

Canadian settings always appeal to me, too, Tracy, and Vancouver is especially beautiful. I can see how that would be a draw for you. And it's interesting what you say about stories staying with you, even if you'd have preferred more resolution. To me, that's a sign of a good story - one that a reader keeps thinking about afterwards.

Todd Mason said...

I have several Canadian books awaiting in my FFB/SSW queue, but, perhaps oddly, all but one is set in Eastern Canada, one largely in the wilderness of Ontario. And his despite being Alaska-born, myself...Yukon and BC being the only territory I've been through, though not since childhood.

TracyK said...

Exactly what I thought, FictionFan. There are always new readers coming to a book, especially one as famous as that. And coincidentally, I was just reading something where The Old Curiosity Shop was mentioned and the ending was spoiled. I had never read it and I can't believe they did that.

TracyK said...

Patti, the setting is wonderful in these stories. Makes me want to go to Vancouver Island. The characterizations are well done too.

TracyK said...

George, in theory I would love to live near the Canadian border and be able to visit so easily. The reality is that I would not like the cold weather.

TracyK said...

I am making some progress on my Canadian Reading Challenge, Margot. Everytime I read about an area, I have to looks at maps because I am so bad with geography. And it is a big country.

TracyK said...

Todd, I should figure out which provinces of Canada I have included in my reading. Definitely Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia. And Yukon, which is a territory?

George said...

Tracy, think Global Warming. Our January has had 11 days above Normal temperature and only one day below Normal. Very little snow. I suspect residents of southern U.S. states will move north as the weather--fires and tornados--and flooding increase.

TracyK said...

You may be right, George. My brother lives in Panama City, Florida and has been affected by hurricanes. Here in California the effects of fires on our lives have gotten worse and worse and more frequent. When we first moved to Santa Barbara forty years ago, we did not even worry about fires in our area.

Todd Mason said...

Yukon, like Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, territories all. I'm unsure how much this affects their operations or relations with the provinces.

The Grand Tour of Canada!

TracyK said...

Todd, some people who do the Canadian Reading Challenge aim for one book from every province or territory, but I have not been that dedicated. Maybe some day.