Affiliation with UVic English: Alumni, B.A. Hons 2012
Special Book: The Innocent Traveller, Ethel Wilson
When did you first read this book: I first read this book in 2009, in Dr. Misao Dean’s class on modern Canadian fiction.
Describe why this book has special significance for you?
From the 2008 New Canadian Library Edition.
Topaz Edgeworth’s exceptional character in this novel is rooted in her ordinariness. For Dr. Dean, I wrote a paper discussing how the women in the novel look to themselves, their inner selves, in moments of crisis, which let me carry on about how utterly delightful and unique Wilson’s characters are.
“‘My dear sister. My dear dear sister. You will come to me, won’t you? I need you” (86).
The relationships between women in this novel are beautiful. Here, Topaz has lost her father and needs a place to live. A few of her siblings debate and disagree, offering substitutes and Nice Favours, until Topaz’s older sister, Annie, invites her to Canada. Because she needs her.
“She was angry for Joe Fortes; and for Mrs. Hamilton-Coffin; and for herself, a spectator on that innocent blue day. She was aware of something evil and stupid in the room” (150).
This, Topaz’s defence, of two friends, is her great moment of heroism. It is nothing but ordinary, and at the same time, it’s powerful.