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An excellent--but not great--Canadian novel
on January 18, 2004
Whether As For Me and My House can be considered one of the "great Canadian novels" is somewhat questionable, but there is no denying that it is a profound, complex and evocative work of literature.
Set during the Great Depression, the story revolves around the domestic life of the Bentleys, who have come to a small, isolated Saskatchewan farm-community of Horizon, where Philip Bentley has taken on role of being the town's new minister.
Ministering is something that Philip, in fact has little desire to do, and is instead obsessed with painting, to the point where his wife--through whose perspective the story is told--is neglected. There relationship is essentially broken, but the reasons for this are not simple, and this essentially is the focus of the story.
Throughout the novel, Mrs. Bentley--who is never named because the work is written in the form of journal entries--continuously explores their history, their personalities and the effect of their confined lifestyle upon themselves and one another.
Over the course of their residence in Horizon she comes to realize that the break-down of their relationship, is not so much the fault of Philip's conduct, as we are first led to believe, but fact that both have allowed themsleves to become victims of circumstance.
As For Me and My House is definitely a work worth studying, but like I initially stated, I question whether it can really be considered one of the great Canadian novels.