by Virginia Sorensen
Age: 7 +
Interests: country life, seasons, farm life, family, community, nature
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1956
180 pages, 14 chapters
A temporary move to the country helps young Marly’s father recover from the trauma of being a POW in World War II. Their neighbours Mr. and Mrs. Chris are extremely helpful to them after their move, and when Mr. Chris has a heart attack, Marly’s family returns the favour, working long hours to collect his maple syrup harvest for him.
Simple generosity and kindness is passed from neighbour to neighbour. Upon their arrival Marly’s family quickly find themselves on the receiving end of this hospitality. After the first year passes they have become part of the community, and decide to stay permanently.
Marly has one small adventure after another as she and her brother explore their new surroundings. There is one startling scene near the beginning as a nest of baby mice found in the farmhouse are exterminated, to Marly’s despair. She and her brother later scheme to help a fox with babies escape local hunters.
The theme of mental illness is present but extremely underplayed – the story begins with the family’s arrival at the farmhouse and Marly’s father seems to be already on the mend. Past troubles are only touched on; when Marly’s father returned from the war he was irritable and tired all the time, but not violent or abusive.
Fairly undramatic, but a good read. A straightforward story about simple country living healing mental scars, this novel also waxes poetic about the changing seasons and the importance of having close ties with nature.