This book was almost Dickensian in its layers of tragedy. We meet Oliver and his little brother, Simon, standing over their mother’s newly dead body, and their lives go downhill from there. The two brothers are without any family or connections and are sent to Canada as part of the British Home Children program. From there the boys are separated when Simon is sent off to live with a well-to-do family and Oliver is shipped off to the Pritchard farm. Life is hard on the farm. Oliver is worked like an animal and lives in fear of Mr. Pritchard’s wrath. Eventually, Simon and Oliver are reunited, but that just brings more worry and hardship to Oliver’s life.
Oliver story could have devolved into a true tale of woe, but Lisa Brown breaks up the awfulness of Oliver’s life with glimmers of light and kindness. As the novel goes on, we learn more about Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard and come to understand how Mr. Prichard came to be the man he is and the burden of regrets Liza Pritchard carries.
The extensive use of dialect is a bit off-putting at first, but as I moved further into the novel, it became less and less noticeable. The level of research and historical knowledge is evident in Brown’s writing. If you liked Christina Baker Kline’s The Orphan Train, you might also like Casualty of Grace.
Thank you to the author for providing me a free review copy of the book.