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The middle of this book was rather tedious as the author went on and on explaining Lorne s positive support of imperialism and his party s wavering position on the issue I wish Duncan had spent time on her characters, their relationships, and a little less on political philosophy But the parts she spent on those things were very good She writes a little like George Eliot or even Elizabeth Gaskell but with a Modern burnish, almost anticipating Virginia Woolf at times view spoiler From the setup, the natural ending would have been an electoral success for Lorne and romantic disappointment for Advena, but Duncan switches things up and at the last minute, Lorne s political career crashes and burns along with his proposed marriage, but good riddance , and Advena s marriage suddenly becomes convenient as well as desirable hide spoiler This is a solid novel of manners More interesting, however, is a nation that is coming to grips with an identity that is intertwined with British imperialism. The romance subplot, though ultimately somewhat superfluous in the book s larger scheme, is well done, striking the right balance of resigned affection for the characters involved In fact, Duncan amply balances all her characters, so that no one is entirely a stereotype or walking cliche The imperialist bent of the main narrative is compelling, though largely for a radically different interpretation of early 20th century Canada s potential on the global stage I have to disagree with the afterword the main draw to the book now is its historical interest, but the book s charm and affection for its characters make it a little endearing. advena s love plot is interesting but the rest is Canadian politics so you know how THAT is This book is much interesting to talk about than to read describing a particular moment in Canadian history Canadian British relations Important, yes, but also intensely dull.
Honestly I longed to read of Advena, a far interesting and dynamic character, than her brother Lorne But I guess then I wouldn t have been reading a novel about imperialism. Born in Ontario, Canada, Duncan spent most of her life between India and England She was a journalist and author The Imperialist is her best known work and was the only one set in Canada.Part romance, part politics, this novel speaks of a time when Canada was emerging as a new country but still with strong ties to Britain Lorne Murchison, of Presbyterian, Scottish stock, makes a bid for office with his ideals of a rejuvenated British Empire His sister, Advena, who reminds me very much of Anne Shirley, has high flown ideals and dreams of her own I liked this character the most although others were interesting too.I got very lost in the politics of the book and maybe would have to read it again to understand I would have liked the book if it had focused on the stories of the different characters. Set in a fictionalized Brantford at the turn of the century, this 1904 book is something of a mixed bag I ve been having a hard time figuring out how to review it So instead, I ve just jotted some notes Because I live in Brantford I found myself spending a lot of time trying to figure out exactly which bits were based on real locations and people The footnotes of my edition helped with this, combining with lots of internet searching It was interesting, but made for a slower read As a novel, parts of this are really very good And then you get to the political speeches To quote a 1904 review The author makes her young hero, at all events, a red hot imperialist, and she has him speak on the question and argue for it in and out of season, and at lengths which tempt the reader to skip Exactly There s an interesting contrast between Canada being portrayed as being open and filled with opportunities than Britain, and then all of the sympathetic characters, who are all living in this supposedly much freer country , being constrained by society and their place in it There s one paragraph that illustrates this particularly well We start of with the hypothetical ideal The Collegiate Institute took in raw material and turned out teachers, teachers than anything The teachers taught, chiefly in rural districts where they could save money, and with the money they saved changed themselves into doctors, Fellows of the University, mining engineers The Collegiate Institute was a potential melting pot you went in as your simple opportunities had made you how you shaped coming out depended upon what was hidden in the core of you You could not in any case be the same as your father before you education in a new country is too powerful a stimulant for that, working upon material too plastic and too hypothetical it is not yet a normal force, with an operation to be reckoned on with confidence It is indeed the touchstone for character in a new people, for character acquired as apart from that inherited it sometimes reveals surprises And then we switch to the reality of the characters in question Neither Lorne Murchison nor El Crow illustrates this point very nearly Lorne would have gone into the law in any case, since his father was able to send him, and El would inevitably have gone back to the crops since he was early defeated by any other possibility Nevertheless, as they walk together in my mind along the Brantford market square, the Brantford Collegiate Institute rises infallibly behind them, a directing influence and a responsible parent This sort of thing comes up again and again, and I was left with the impression that the characters are mostly constrained to follow the path that they are on they can take individual action to mess up their lives, but they can t do a whole lot to make things better I was surprised at how much walking was happening, compared to other pre car novels I ve read Was it because this one is situated in a town, vs on an estate Or focused on a different social class Because it was in Canada vs Europe I could go on, but this is too long and disjointed already It was a thought provoking and in many places quite enjoyable read, but it also had its boring bits And many of the aspects I found interesting are because of where and when it was written this likely would not apply to most other readers. The tone of this book is like L.M Montgomery s writing voice, only with jarring throwaway racist and ableist comments on the part of both characters and narrator The rest is bad politics with some amusing social commentary that doesn t achieve enough distance from its subject to really work for me as satire You re not always quite sure if you re supposed to agree with what s going on.The main character, Lorne Murchison, isn t nearly as interesting as his sister Advena, whose story is given less page time though it s much riveting I found it difficult to care about yet another white guy who s totally blind to his privilege I d be happy to be friends with Advena I d be bored to talk to Lorne.Duncan s writing style is excellent, despite the problems one finds as a 21st century reader She has a wonderful vocabulary and a gift for wry phrasing and funny similes. ^DOWNLOAD KINDLE ↝ The Imperialist ☈ Sara Jeannette Duncan S Classic Portrait Of A Turn Of The Century Ontario Town, The Imperialist Captures The Spirit Of An Emergent Nation Through The Example Of Two Young Dreamers Impassioned By The Imperialist Idea, Lorne Murchison Rests His Bid For Office On His Vision Of A Rejuvenated British Empire His Sister Advena Betrays A Kindred Attraction To The High Flown Ideals In Her Love For An Unworldly, And Unavailable, Young Minister Nimbly Alternating Between Politics And Romance, Duncan Constructs A Superbly Ironic Object Lesson In The Canadian Virtue Of CompromiseSympathetic, Humorous, And Wonderfully Detailed, The Imperialist Is An Astute Analysis Of The Paradoxes Of Canadian Nationhood, As Relevant Today As When The Novel Was First Published In