Growing up in Ontario means I’m still learning about the Western Canadian books that everyone has read. I moved out west to Calgary 14 years ago now, and even though I’m firmly embedded in our publishing world here, I’m not familiar with what’s considered a ‘classic’ and what all the kids read in high school. From what I’ve recently learned, Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell is one of these western classics that most people will be familiar with, and I had the pleasure of picking up a newly released 75th Anniversary Edition of the book, pictured above. This edition includes a foreward by Frances Itani, who knew W.O. Mitchell quite well, as well as an afterword by Orm Mitchell, the author’s son, and Barbara Mitchell, W.O.’s daughter-in-law. The author himself passed away in 1998.
Originally released in 1947, the book takes place over about 5 years on the prairies of Saskatchewan, a really flat area in Canada known for its agricultural output. It’s told mainly from the perspective of a young boy whom we meet at the age of 4, so I can’t really call this a coming-of-age novel, as he isn’t even a teen yet when the book ends. Instead, it’s a book about living in a small town at that time, the various town players that make up a culture, and the cycle of life and death, which one can’t escape when living in a rural area. Even though its decades old this book has a timeless quality to it, mainly due to its beautiful depictions of nature and its role in our lives. Poetically written with some great subplots, I’m happy I was introduced to this new-to-me classic novel.
Sounds lovely, and what a beautiful book! I think I’ll put this one on my list to include on my next Classics Club list – assuming I ever finish the current one! I had a quick look and I’m glad to see that the hardback does appear to be available over here – it definitely looks like one that deserves to be read on paper rather than on kindle. Interestingly it’s also available as an audiobook, apparently narrated by the author himself. Listening to the sample it sounds… interesting. I’m never sure it’s a good idea for authors to narrate their own books… 😉
hmmm yikes, yah not sure this would lend itself to the author reading. I think he would have been quite elderly at the time he narrated it so keep that in mind if you decide to go the audiobook route haha
Every time I go to read this review I forget it’s a video, and I’m in a public place. Doh!
the suspense grows! haha
I have read this book, though not in school. There are a lot fewer Western Canadian classics than ones coming out of central and eastern Canada. Actually, the only Canadian I remember reading in high school was Farley Mowat!
the only cdn I remember reading was Margaret Atwood! We are sorely lacking in Canadian lit content in schools unfortunately, I hope its gotten better since we went to school
I don’t even remember reading Atwood! I think it has gotten better though. At my job I deal a lot with the local schools and their orders and the librarians do a fantastic job of ordering diverse books and emphasizing Canadian and Indigenous authors.
Oh that’s so encouraging to hear!
My favourite is whenever I hear on the news about a book being banned somewhere, the school librarians will immediately cal up and order a copy of that book!
I’ve never read this book. I tried reading it maybe about 25 years ago, but didn’t get past the first few chapters. I wonder how it would go now… That’s such a beautiful edition!
I know its beautiful! It’s definitely a ‘slower’ book for sure
Okay, that joke about seeing your dog run away for days made my laugh so hard my husband came to check on me.
Your outfit is stunning. You look like a total boss lady! Sorry it took me so long to get to this review. I’m on the run a lot with school, but my last final exam is in a couple of hours, so I’m trying to chill out. And I thought, “Why not chill out with Anne!”
Aw thank you! And yes, that dog joke is a very very old joke about the prairies that I just love 😉
I don’t care for Chevy Chase, but I do love this moment in the movie Funny Farm when he and his wife get a dog for the new farm house they just bought (they are city folks), they bring the dog home, and it promptly runs away and never returns.
You don’t like Chevy Chase???? Why? Have you seen caddy shack?
He’s a huge misogynist. When he was at Saturday Night Live, he refused to do any skits that were written by women. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but almost every single one of his movies includes him grabbing the breast of some woman and honking it, which never really fits with the plot. It was just him and his dude bro friends dicking around.
Oh no, that’s so disappointing. Ugh. I feel like his movies were so popular when I was kid so I’ve always looked at him so fondly 🙁