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With Wolfe in Canada

With Wolfe in Canada, Or the Winning of a Continent, G. A. Henty
(Blackie and Son, 1886; Preston/Speed Publications, 1999)
Hb., 353 pp.
Ages 11+

I am a Henty fan having enjoyed a number of his books (I have commented on our experience of reading one previously). However, this one was disappointing on several levels. The story meanders seeming as if he wanted to include too many different things. Several chapters do not really discuss the main character but pause to tell the history. Of course part of what I want is the history but detaching the history from the character makes the history more detached. These portions then read more as compilations of data rather than an engaging retelling of the historical story. With so many unusual names of people and places it is hard to follow. It was hard for me to follow so I was pleased with my boys’ perseverance just to hang in there. The fact that there are good adventure moments helped. Such moments are just too few. The book could probably be helpfully abridged.

The title is a bit misleading also since Wolfe only shows up at the end. The main character spends more time in America and Britain than in Canada. He does drop in at key historical events so he is with George Washington during Braddock’s disastrous defeat as well as being involved in various other battles of the French and Indian War.

There are good morals found in the story particularly courage, honesty, and mercy towards those who wrong us. One of the best episodes is early on when the main character James defends a young girl by trouncing a bully who knocked the girl down. My boys still talk about that scene. So the book is helpful in this way, but there are other books that do this as well with stories that are more compelling. I could not help comparing this book with Douglas Bond’s Crown and Covenant Series. Bond is far superior not only in quality of story but even more so in showing the faith as an integral part of the life of the characters.

So, we would not really recommend this book. It is not as good as many other Henty novels. Older readers can appreciate it and learn much history along the way.

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