cover image Wildwood


Elinor Florence. Dundurn (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $19.99 trade paper (324p) ISBN 978-1-4597-4020-4

A single mother from Arizona must spend a year living in a remote, off-grid farmhouse on the Canadian prairie in this charming novel by Florence (Bird’s Eye View). Molly Bannister is a laid-off accountant struggling to make ends meet when she learns of an inheritance from her great-aunt: a sprawling farm in northern Alberta that is hers only if she spends a full year living in the isolated farmhouse. Molly agrees, planning to sell the property and return to Phoenix with plenty of money for much-needed medical treatment for her four-year-old daughter, Bridget. But first, she and Bridget must spend the year learning how to get by with a pump well, a wood-burning stove, and very little else. Florence punctuates the story with excerpts from a journal written in 1924 by Molly’s great-aunt, whose love of home and the land is infectious and whose perseverance inspires Molly as she struggles through a long, bitter winter and attains a new understanding of herself and her daughter. The characters are not particularly complex or nuanced, but Molly’s experience of her great-aunt’s way of life is so vividly described that readers will appreciate the strength and courage of past generations and feel grateful for the safeties and conveniences of modern life. The book will have particular appeal to readers interested in early-20th-century social history. (Mar.)