This is the link to my review of Amy Bloom's novel, White Houses.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Sunday, July 1, 2018
I am pleased that my novel, Grace and the Secret Vault, will be the book under discussion at 2 p.m. on Monday December 10, 2018 at the Emerald Plaza Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I look forward to hearing people's impressions and answering their questions.
I am writing to let you know that you are one of the winners of our 50+ Short Story Contest this year. Congratulations!
We will be holding an “Afternoon of Storytelling” event to celebrate the winners this fall on at the Good Companions Centre, 670 Albert St. We would be delighted if you would come to read your story “Reminiscences for Rosie ” aloud and to meet the other writers. Refreshments will be served during the event, and prizes will be awarded at the end. You are welcome to bring your family members and friends.
Please let me know as soon as is convenient for you whether you plan to attend, as well as the number of people you would likely be bringing with you.
Librarian, Program Development / Bibliothécaire, Élaboration des programmes
Ottawa Public Library / Bibliothèque publique d’Ottawa
613-580-2424, ext/poste 32151
Friday, May 25, 2018
I loved Grace in Love. It is so vivid and well written. The thing I liked best was your portrayal of the conflicts a “modern” young woman of the 1920s faced when it came to her doubts and fears about sexuality. What to say to men she became involved with? What to do about birth control? How to judge a man she loved: Willem, for example, whom I did not like. The book is also so valuable as a portrayal of the Canadian left. I love what you make of Agnes MacPhail, for example. Thanks so much for sending me a copy.
Grace in Love, and my earlier novel, Grace and the Secret Vault, are available at Singing Pebble Books, as well as from myself and the publisher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Saturday, April 14, 2018
Grace in Love: A Novel about Grace Woodsworth
by Ruth Latta
2018, ISBN 978-1-77216-128-1, paperback 312 pages.
Based on the life of Canadian politician Grace Woodsworth MacInnis, Grace in Love is the story of a young woman’s search for love, commitment, and fulfilling work. This book is both historical fiction and a novel of ideas. It’s also the story of a budding politician and a political party. Along the road to love and commitment, Grace Woodsworth discovered her vocation: a political life in the party founded by her father, J.S. Woodsworth: the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), now known as the New Democratic Party (NDP).
The book opens with Grace’s arrival in Paris, France, on a scholarship to study French at the Sorbonne. In a series of flashbacks to Grace Woodsworth’s life growing up in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Ottawa during the roaring twenties and the great depression of the 1930s, Ruth Latta illustrates Grace’s development into a confident, diplomatic, and modern young woman who understands people, communities, and politics. Having co-authored, with Joy Trott, the biography Grace MacInnis: A Woman to Remember, Ruth Latta is an expert on her subject. In Grace in Love, she holds a magnifying glass to a crucial portion of Grace Woodsworth MacInnis’s long life. Because Grace in Love is a novel, not a biography, some fictional characters mingle with the real ones.
The first half of Grace in Love is set in France, where the reader follows Grace’s travels and adventures, including sexual harassment on a train journey from Brussels to Paris. During her student days in Paris, Grace became fluent in French by immersing herself in the language and culture of France. She went to historical locations with friends and with two of her siblings who visited her in Paris at different times, Charles at Christmas and Belva during the summer. Together, they toured cathedrals (Notre Dame and Chartres), the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Luxembourg Gardens, and famous Parisian neighbourhoods, such as Montmartre and Auteil.
At the Sorbonne, Grace made friends with both Parisians and other foreign students. After classes, Grace and her friends met in cafés to discuss socialism, religion, and love. During one of these gab sessions, Grace met Willem Van Aarden (not his real name), a South African graduate looking for an academic position. As Grace and Willem dated, going to the theatre, the opera, vaudeville performances, museums, and movies, she fell in love. Willem’s desire for an open relationship forced Grace to define her values and her goals regarding love and family. “You’re moving too fast for me,” she told him one night at the movies.
When Grace returned to Canada after graduating from the Sorbonne the following year, she left Willem behind and began teaching high-school French in Winnipeg. She was dismayed to discover that her students were indifferent to learning French. A subsequent stint teaching primary school convinced Grace that teaching wasn’t her vocation. She fell into a depression and was diagnosed with “battle fatigue.” Her family’s support and acceptance brought Grace through this dark period. Grace’s mother suggested that she write about her problems and the resulting “Apologia” expressed Grace’s fear and despair over her lost vocation.
Grace soon realized that working on her father’s election campaign was much more her cup of tea. J.S. Woodsworth’s 1930 campaign for re-election to the federal seat representing Winnipeg North Centre was successful, and Grace moved to Ottawa as her father’s parliamentary assistant. Her duties included helping rookie members of the Ginger Group write punchy speeches for the House of Commons. One of those MPs was Angus MacInnis. What began as a job quickly evolved into a romance with a much older man, and Grace and Angus reserved every evening for long walks together along the Rideau Canal. Grace in Love comes full circle with the couple travelling to Europe after their marriage, where they spend time with Grace’s Parisian friends.
In Grace in Love, the heroine’s character is realistically drawn through vivid examples of her activities and ideas. Her dedication to studying French, her love and respect for her family, her determination to communicate clearly with her fiancé, regardless of the subject, combine to form a picture in the reader’s eye of a strong, capable, smart, loving, and hard-working young woman.
Events come alive in Grace in Love because of Ruth Latta’s excellent research and the story’s high level of realism. The Estevan miners’ strike, the suppression of Communism, birth control, non-traditional families, and equal pay for women are some of the socio-political issues impacting the lives of these characters.
Grace in Love: A Novel about Grace Woodsworth is a fascinating read about an important Canadian. It’s ideal for readers who enjoy history and politics.
Grace in Love is available from Baico Publishing (www.baico.ca).
Peggy Lynn Kelly is a retired English Professor completing a scholarly work with Carole Gerson on Canadian women writers in print and broadcasting, 1914-1960.
Friday, March 16, 2018
Review of Grace in Love
by Emily-Jane Orford
What is it that defines a person’s life? Is it the wonderful, amazing (or the opposite) deeds they perform as adults that make them memorable in the history of human-kind? Or does the true nature of a person present itself from the very moment that person enters this world?
Grace Woodsworth MacInnis (1905-1991) was a well-respected Parliamentarian, a Canadian with passion for the working class, a person who cared for others, especially women and their difficult plights in life. She was a gifted speaker, a compassionate soul, an advocate for equality of rights and liberties.
Before Grace made her name in Canadian politics, she was a girl. We read about her younger years in Ruth Latta’s “Grace and the Secret Vault” (Baico, 2017). Now the author takes the reader on another journey through this amazing woman’s formative years in her latest book, “Grace in Love” (Baico, 2018). While the author allows the reader to follow Grace’s studies in Paris and her journeys around Europe, the reader also learns about a young woman just learning about love. In Paris, as one would expect, she believes she’s discovered true love, only to come to a realization that this love is a passing fancy from the partner’s perspective. The young woman, now educated in French and ready to return to a career in teaching like her mother, saves herself before she falls victim to this love’s alluring temptations. And, ultimately, she learns that, although she may have lost a friend in her almost lover, she has many other friends, new and old, whom she loves and a family she also loves and cares for. There are, after all, many kinds of love.
Returning to Winnipeg and teaching, Grace finally unburdens her sorrows to her mother, who bluntly, but also compassionately, assesses the situation, telling Grace that, “men are like streetcars. There’ll be another one along in twenty minutes.” And, for Grace, there was another one. But it did take a little longer than twenty minutes.
In Winnipeg, Grace discovers that she doesn’t possess the passion for teaching that her mother had. Her father invites Grace to join him in Ottawa as an office assistant and she accepts, even though she doesn’t yet know how to type. Thrown into the world of politics, not so unfamiliar since she grew up with a very open-minded, socialist father, Grace attaches herself to another like-minded thinker and the two connect and bond, as love grows. Grace had found her life’s partner and her passion for helping others in a way not so different from her father’s, in government.
Ruth Latta is a storyteller, intent and dedicated to presenting Canadian history, especially the history of Canadian women, in a creative and enjoyable manner. A person’s life is a story and the author has captured the beauty of the person she is writing about in a storytelling manner. Ruth has done considerable research on Grace Woodsworth MacInnis, particularly studying the woman’s extensive archive of correspondence. Grace, like Ruth, was passionate about expressing herself vividly with the written word.
This is a powerful, insightful and intuitive exploration of one woman’s life, before the woman became the power in Canadian politics that made her memorable. A valuable addition to Canadian literature and Canadian history.