Margaret A. Westlie is the author of novels, poetry, essays and a children’s book. Her Settlers’ Stories novels draw inspiration from her Scottish ancestry, while her Spooky Fun novels draw on her interest in the occult and paranormal. She lives in beautiful Prince Edward Island, Canada, where her novels are set.
Margaret Westlie also appeals to the imagination of those who are drawn to the supernatural and occult by creating memorable characters, both worldly and other-worldly, who hunt the ghosts of contemporary Prince Edward Island and bring peace to those troubled by them.
Books by Margaret Westlie
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What They Say
This is a very good read. Set in rural Prince Edward Island in the 19th century and with a storyline that revolves around farming life, it would not normally be a genre that I would fund appealing. After all, I grew up in a large city. But, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Why? Because the writing is superb. The author uses just the right mix of dialog and narrative to keep the reader engaged. Moreover, her descriptive passages are written so vividly that the reader feels transported back in time. When Mattie's father dies as a result of a farming accident, her mother wastes no time in finding a new husband for herself, then arranging for Mattie, still a young teenager, to be married off to an older man. A perfect set up for difficult, if not abusive, marital relationships to ensue? Refreshingly, such is far from the case. The way in which the relationship between Mattie and her husband David evolves so that in Mattie's words, he becomes "a real friend," is very touching. David in no way takes advantage of the authority that he has. He treats Mattie with tenderness, even in a "fatherly" kind of way. What I did not know prior to reading this book was the fact that arranged marriages were normal in those days as a survival mechanism for women who would be hard pressed to make ends meet in a man's world. I thoroughly recommend this book.
I have 2 problems with the fictional offerings of PEI writer, Margaret MacLeod Westlie. The first involves her intricate plotting and shocking twists (a woman murdered, a group of 19th c church Elders banding together as a security patrol in a rural community)... this sort of thing means that the book cannot be easily set aside but must be read in 1 or 2 sittings resulting in disruption of schedules, shopping, and even work. The second arises from the authentic PEI-Scottish setting, vocabulary, and characterizations which are so authentic that they make this reader profoundly homesick. If you are an Islander, read it at your peril.
The first paragraph grabbed me, and I had to read on. Anna, a woman in the prime of life, lies dead in a field above her house, and the murder weapon, an axe, lies nearby. Her community is small and tightly knit. Who is the murderer? and What is his or her motivation? The story is set one generation after Margaret Westlie's novel Mattie's Story, so in about the 1850s. I recommend reading Mattie's Story first, because there is a connection between the two. Plus, Westlie does an excellent job of creating a backdrop for the community in Mattie's Story, including its link back to Scotland, for the characters are descendants of the Selkirk Settlers who arrived on Prince Edward Island in 1803. Anna's Secret, like Mattie's Story, is for Young Adult readers, but hey! I liked it, too.
It's not often I choose to read a book of poetry; I suspect the same is true of you. But, ROAD MAPS by Margaret Westlie is poetry you won't want to miss. Her title comes from her opening poem, "Self," her poetry being a guide to her "inner me." Others poems provide additional glimpses into how she feels about herself and hints as to how her life has unfolded. Her experiences often provide a universal glimpse as well. She skillfully interprets herself in short, unrhymed verses and, occasionally, in prose. The reader learns of temptations, feelings of separateness and friendship, sibling rivalry, disintegrating marriage, death of a parent, reincarnation, and the destructiveness of war--a wide and interesting variety. Poetic devices abound and are often quirky and apt, as when she compares her mind to a cocklebur, cliches to potatoes, words to acrobats leaping "from neuron to neuron," a friend to a buried treasure or confidence to water in a radiator. This work holds numberous references to her native Canada. The reader is pulled into her sense of place. We can see "lingering light on a winter evening"or an owl searching for its supper; we can hear church bells competing with cow bells, we feel the cool breese or the "silence of the sarkening year; we taste "lumpy oatmeal porridge." Give this book a try and, perhaps, select one of her Haunted PEI novels as well.
I enjoyed reading this novel. Mattie Cameron was a believable character who adapted well to the abrupt changes of her life. Though I suppose she had no choice but adapt to the circumstances even though sometimes she was not aware of what they were exactly. How quick was her transformation from a teenage girl climbing trees for sap ( gum) to becoming a mother about a year later.
Books by Margaret Westlie
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