32 Short Views of Mazo de La Roche
Honourable Mention in Quill & Quire’s “Best Books of 1996” This unconventional biography of the woman who wrote Jalna and other chronicles of the Whiteoak family, approaches her life from multiple angles, including an interview with an old neighbour of the subject; critical commentary on her texts; photographs; conversations with the last living relatives of Mazo and her cousin, Caroline Clement; and a chronology and bibliography. This book draws on the research of earlier biographers, but Daniel Bratton broadens the scope of the discussion to include new areas of investigation. Besides archival research, he has reinterviewed subjects interviewed by previous biographers, and tracked down previously withheld information. He has also explored, as no one else has done, the geographical settings of Mazo’s life and fictions, looking at them from a new perspective. The real strength of this book, however, which gives it an importance beyond de la Roche studies and Canadian literature, is its innovative format. Bratton’s approach will recommend the book to those interested in the theory and practice of biography. It can be read as a book about life-writing, as well as a writing of the life of Mazo de la Roche.
Daniel Bratton lives in Elora, Ontario. He teaches English in South Korea.