Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nellie McClung by Charlotte Gray

Feminist, politician, and social activist, Nellie McClung altered Canada's political landscape, leaving a legacy that has long survived her. She had a wicked wit, and her convictions and campaigns helped shape the Canada we live in today. Acclaimed writer Charlotte Gray, who has forged a distinguished career exploring the lives of such notable women as Susanna Moodie and Pauline Johnson, is the perfect writer to reinterpret McClung.
Penguin Canada has this series out right now that I am so excited about. It is called 'Extraordinary Canadians' and it is biographies of famous Canadians from the past. I love Canadian history, and the authors of these biographies are some of Canada's current best-selling authors. I see there are two more out, so you know I will be buying them. I imagine I will be collecting the whole series, so I just wanted to take a moment to thank whoever came up with this! It really is an awesome idea.

I bought this book because it was by Charlotte Gray, who is one of my favourite non-fiction authors. She wrote the fabulous book I read last year about Alexander Graham Bell. I also have always been intrigued by Nellie McClung because she was one of the women that was important in the feminist movement in Canada. She was my kind of person, so to see a book out about her written by an author I really enjoy, you know that I had to pick it up.

Nellie McClung says things like this:

In Canada we are developing a pattern of life, and I know something about one block of that pattern. I know it for I helped to make it, and I can say that now without any pretense of modesty, or danger of arrogance, for I know that we who make the patterns are not important, but the pattern is...
Nellie McClung was a fighter. She was one of the women involved in the Person's Case, for example. This was where women were not considered people, and thus were not able to vote. Her and four other women banded together to petition government to have this changed. McClung's role in this is the thing she is most commonly remembered for. These five women became the Famous Five, and it is because of women like them that Canadian women have the lifestyles that they have nowadays. I learned a lot from this book. I will admit that I know a lot about the Famous Five, but as a group. I had never taken the time to read individual accounts of these women, and I am glad that I finally stepped out of my comfort zone. Nellie did a lot of things that were really interesting to read about. She was a very vibrant woman that makes me proud to be born in the country that she fought so hard for. A very modern woman in many ways, she makes for a fun read.

I am really glad that I read this book. Nellie McClung deserves way more recognition than she receives. She is an essential part of Canadian history and we are still enjoying aspects of what she fought so hard for today. I recommend this book!

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