This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco-friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.
The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on “green” books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.
When I think of Farley Mowat, I think of the old paperbacks my mom had—the kind with stiff, yellowing pages and brittle spines that cracked when you opened the book. Our copy of The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float wasn’t a book anymore; it was a collection of loose pages. I remember my twin brother flopped on his stomach on our sheepskin-covered ottoman, reading the book on the floor below him, so that he could just pick up each page and turn it over.
Owls in the Family, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be, and Never Cry Wolf are among my favourite books, so when I saw that a new Farley Mowat book was up for review on the Green Books Blog Tour, I jumped at the chance to read it. Eastern Passage was typical Farley Mowat; an amusing, inspiring read all the way through.
Eastern Passage is the second installment in Mowat’s autobiography, picking up the story from Otherwise. The book begins in 1946, with Farley’s return from war, quick marriage to Frances, and desire to go up north. He signs on a student assistant in a research project of the northern caribou, and with his wife heads the land of the Ihalmiut. However, Farley soon discovers that he dislikes killing anything—whether plants or animals—for the purpose of scientific study, and he fails to fulfill the requirements of his job.
Returning to rural Ontario, he and Fran begin homesteading and Farley turns to his writing to earn an income. Between building a log cabin, planting a garden, digging a pond, and other homesteading tasks, he writes People of the Deer and other short stories. He includes samples of his letters to his editors, detailing the publishing process. Many of these letters had me laughing out loud. Farley completely ignores most of the etiquette pounded into a writer’s head today about how to treat your editor. His letters are tongue-in-cheek, chatty, completely Farley.
Farley chronicles the controversy that arose around People of the Deer (which I haven’t read yet, unfortunately) as various groups discussed in the book, most notably the Hudson’s Bay Company, took issue with what Farley wrote about. He then heads off to Europe with Fran to tour the battlefields of his old regiment in preparation for writing a book about them. Research for that book also included visits to the areas of Ontario where most of the men were from, and a long chapter about the grandfather of one of the men in the regiment.
Eastern Passage concluded with a chapter about Farley’s trip down the St. Lawrence Seaway with his father on a rickety boat, reminiscent of The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float. Then the story just ends. Perhaps there is another book coming to continue the tale and bring the reader to the present-day in Farley’s life.
Overall, the book was as good as I expected it to be. Farley is still in fine storytelling form for a writer approaching ninety. While the book itself seemed to jump around, each chapter was organized around a section of his life. At times, he seemed to get sidetracked (Harv’s story was very interesting, but a bit of a rabbit trail) telling interesting stories that he discovered and perhaps hadn’t fit into any other books.
I also found it rather suitable that a Farley Mowat book was “produced using ancient-forest friendly products.” Farley’s work is almost synonymous with environmentalism, and indeed, in this book, he keeps up his theme of concern for the environment. As one who likes the feeling of holding a book in my hands, and much prefers reading on paper to reading on screen, I’m not ready to see the end of the book age and the beginning of the electronic age. At the same time, I like lots of trees. So I’m pleased—and I think Farley would be as well—to be part of this movement promoting “green” books.
This book provided for review courtesy of McLelland & Stewart. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.