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Life in the Clearings versus the Bush

Susanna Moodie

Book Overview: 

As a middle class Englishwoman Moodie did not particularly enjoy “the bush”, as she called it. She and her husband moved to Belleville in 1840, which she referred to as “the clearings”. Here she described urban life, including religion, art, and education, especially as compared to relative lack of these things in “the bush”. She studied the Family Compact and became sympathetic to the moderate reformers led by Robert Baldwin, while remaining critical of radical reformers such as William Lyon Mackenzie. This caused problems for her husband, who shared her views, but, as sheriff of Belleville, had to work with members and supporters of the Family Compact. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .That death might take us both away!

"Away from whom? Alas! What ill

Press'd the warm life-hopes from her heart?

Was she not young and lovely still?

What made the frequent tear-drops start

From eyes, whose light of love could fill

My inmost soul, and bade me part

From noisy comrades in the street,

To kiss her cheek, so cold and pale,

To clasp her neck, and hold her hand,

And list the oft-repeated tale

Of woes I could not understand;

Yet felt their force, as, day by day,

I watch'd her fade from life away.

"And he, the cause of all this woe,

Her mate--the father of her child,

In dread I saw him come and go,

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Community Reviews

This book was originally written in 1853 and was a sort of sequel to her memoir "Life in the Bush." The first book was about her family's emigration to Canada from England and settling in the Canadian wilderness. This sequel was more about life in the "city" as it were. I was interested in readin...more

Compared to Roughing it in the Bush, Life in the Clearings is rambling, and sometimes amusingly antiquated in its thought processes. Certain passages describing the landscape of the Bay of Quinte and the Belleville region sparkle with their lush descriptions. However, contrasting the vignettes of...more

In all honesty, I had to work o get through this. So many of the descriptions and anecdotes were delightful and moved me to laughter, while others were at times tragic or horrifying, yet giving a striking account of Moodie’s life and how she understood her society. The difficulty lay in the numer...more

Interesting context to Atwood’s Alias Grace.

Moodie takes the reader on a unique journey from Belleville to the roaring falls of Niagara. Her narrative, I imagine, would be an excellent companion for the literary tourist and historian. On her way she makes a stop at the Kingston Penitentiary to view the notorious Grace Marks (the subject of...more