Friday, February 8, 2013

Honor Bound

The title:  Honor Bound
The authors: Mary Alice and John Downie
Publication: Oxford University Press Canada, 1971
Got it from: Hannelore's, 2009

The Loyalist immigration to Canada is the backdrop for this delightful 1970's children's book.  Miles and Patience Avery are persecuted for their family's loyalty to King George III in their home town of Philadelphia at the end of the Revolutionary War.  When their father returns from fighting, the family has to flee in the night.  The first part of the novel is a travel adventure as the Averys try to make it safely to the Canadian border.  Their journey is fraught with danger, including a run-in with a two-faced Rebel innkeeper.  Once safely in Cataraqui (now Kingston, Ontario) their troubles are not over.  A conceited and vengeful army captain tries to make life as difficult possible for them, and the spectre of their land's former owner, a notorious thief named Grimble, hangs over them.  There is a lot of description of the incredible hardships of early settler life, but there is also joy such as a pioneer Christmas celebration and when a local boy is taught to read.  And there is the continued search for the Averys' missing sister, Honor, from whom the book gets its name.

I have actually been interested in reading this book for a long time.  The first chapter was presented as a story in one of my elementary school readers.  (If you went to school in Canada in the 1980's and 90's, you might remember it).  For some reason, I was never able to find a copy until I stumbled across one at a used book store a few years ago - ironically, a discarded school library book.  The story is quick and enjoyable with lots of fascinating details about what life was like for the poor Loyalists who had to give up beloved homes to eke out a living in the wilderness.  Being told from the children's perspectives helped soften some of the harshness of their conditions, as kids are always able to make fun and play wherever they are.    Still, it wouldn't be the life for me, unless it's safely from my armchair.

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