Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Emerald Plaza book event, March 3rd 2020

It seems like long ago that Ainalem Tebeje and I had our book event for InternationalWomen's Week at the Emerald Plaza Library. We were pleased that Ray Coderre, president of Baico Publishing, was able to attend our events.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Book event, Ruth Latta and Ainalem Tebeje

Ottawa authors Ruth Latta and Ainalem Tebeje
present their novels
in honour of International Women's Week
at the Emerald Plaza Branch
of the Ottawa Public Library

Tuesday, March 3, 2020, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m.

Votes, Love and War, by Ruth Latta, is a novel about the Manitoba women's suffrage movement and World War I

My Love Story in Broken English, by Ainalem Tebeje, is about a newlywed couple in Ethiopia. The husband defends his bride against harmful cultural customs.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

"Short story, "Pranks"

Hello everyone.

It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of the Fifteen Stories High Short Story Anthology for 2020.  Further information will follow regarding the launch, pre-orders of books etc. but I wanted to ensure every one received the announcement prior to Christmas.

We apologize for the delay but it was a tough decision and our judge - Mr.  Sam Piccolo.  He had a very difficult time reading and re - reading in order to get them in the right order.

First Place Winner with her story Colours in the Rain - INGRID BETZ
Second Place Winner with her story Pranks - RUTH LATTA
Third Place Winner with her story New Brooms -  CHRISTINE JARVIS

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

"Grace in Love" reviewed in "Glebe Report"

Grace in Love (Ottawa, Baico, 2018, $25) was reviewed in the October 2019 issue of The Glebe Report. The review is below.

Grace in Love chronicles Grace MacInnis’s struggles with romance

Grace in Love, a novel by Ruth Latta
Reviewed by Randal Marlin

Grace in Love is a sequel to Ruth Latta’s earlier historical novel about Grace MacInnis as a thirteen year old and her father, J.S. Woodsworth. This time, Grace is twenty-two years old and enrolled on scholarship in a six-month curse in French civilization at the Sorbonne. We follow her through her time in Paris to her government job in Ottawa.

Latta has combined diligent research into the facts of this period, evidenced through archives, including letters and reports of the time, with an imaginative reconstruction of Grace’s likely interactions and introspections. The result is a highly readable, informative account of influences on the career of Grace MacInnis, MP, who became a prominent parliamentary advocate for social equality, particularly regarding women’s rights.

Although this is a novel, the reader absorbs a lot of Canada’s social history, often presented painlessly in the form of dialogue or mental flashbacks in the mind of Grace. The central theme of the book is Grace’s encounters and relationships with different men at different stages of her life. She has to come to terms with her own aims and expectations and has to reckon with how these attachments will fit with a permanent commitment to a partner. Included in this reckoning is an estimate of how likely the other will be to reciprocate such a commitment, with all the necessary adjustments.

The opening scene is her arrival at her place in Paris. “She looked up at the house, saw a lace curtain twitch in a window and a young voice saying, “C’est la Canadienne.”

She then meets Mme De Bussy, who takes in boarders, university students, who interact freely, but the door must be left open if genders mix. The adjustments to life in Paris produce a lot of tensions for Grace.

She would like to be a teacher of French, like her mother, though she doesn’t see herself as having the same level of dedication. Her father, J.S. Woodsworth, a Methodist minister, fell out of favour with his Church when he opposed the “Great War”, as it was then known. A supporter of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, he was arrested and briefly jailed. In 1921 he was elected Member of Parliament for Winnipeg North Centre and the family moved to Ottawa.

While Grace studies hard in Paris, she also has something of a social whirl, joining other girls from the Sorbonne at cafes near Boulevards Montparnasse and Raspail. The talk gravitates to free love and then to birth control that was prohibited at the time. They agree that legalization would be necessary for women to reach their full potential.

At one of the gathering spots she becomes smitten by a young man who is “movie star handsome”, Willem Van Aarden, a Dutchman from South Africa. He had recently received a doctorate from the University of London. As Latta describes the scene, Willem smiles at Grace and “every nerve in her body came alive. She began fiddling with her hair.’ He is attracted to her and a roller-coaster of romance begins. She’s all for the fun life in Paris, but hesitates when she finds they have differing values likely to interfere with a permanent good relationship.

Returning to Canada she gets a teaching job but becomes dispirited when her students lack the motivation to learn French. She feels called to a career in social activism. Luckily there is a socialist-minded MP, who has little formal education, and can make use of her talents. Older readers may remember the sophisticated Café Henry Burger where he invites her to dinner. She learns to curb her literary references when she sees he might be embarrassed by not getting them. The two start to move into a new amatory relationship, but Ottawa being what it is, that must be concealed. The two support each other, with both of them becoming eminent speakers who help to transform the very unequal relations between men and women at the time.

The novel is carried along with humour and by evocative references to songs and movies . You get a good sense of the mood of the different characters from Latta’s careful choice of the music they listen to. Though archival documentation is amply provided it sometimes slows the narrative flow. The history of Canada’s left-leaning politics is well conveyed, and that of Grace’s development in particular. All in all, the book is fast-paced, with rich descriptions of France’s countryside and Parisian social life.

Randal Marlin is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Carleton University and the author of many works, including Propaganda and the Ethics of Persuasion.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Link to Susan Taylor Meehan's review of "Votes, Love and War"

Below is the link to Susan Taylor Meehan's review of my new novel, Votes, Love and War, in the online magazine Compulsive Reader

Sunday, September 8, 2019

My new novel, "Votes, Love and War"

Votes, Love and War (Ottawa, Baico, 2019, ISBN 978-1-77216-191-5, $32) is one of the very few works of fiction about the Manitoba women's suffrage movement and the First World War as experienced by women on the home front.  As well as being an entertaining story in which fictional characters mingle with real historical figures, Votes Love and War explores concerns as important now as they were in the first two decades of the 20th century: the status of newcomers to Canada, the meaning of equality, and the impact of war upon democracy.

When eighteen year old Charlotte leaves her rural Manitoba home in 1913 to find work in Winnipg, she dreams of meeting the Beynon sisters. Francis Marion Beynon and her elder sister, Lillian Beynon Thomas, were sisters, journalists, women's page editors and activists in the Manitoba women's suffrage movement.  Under their wings, Charlotte participates in the movement and meets some of the most progressive people in Winnipeg. Then, in the summer of 1914, Canada goes to war and over the next four years, many hopes and dreams are shattered.

The Beynon sisters were instrumental in winning the vote for Manitoba women in 1916 - the first women in Canada to have the franchise.  While historians have written about them, their work has not been publicized like that of Nellie McClung, their contemporary. Votes, Love and War shows their important contribution to Canadian women's equality.  Copies are available from Baico Publishing, and myself,