04 June 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: C is for Child

Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

The Village of Souls
Philip Child
Toronto: Ryerson, 1948
294 pages

I've long championed Child, praising God's Sparrows and Mr. Ames Against Time here and elsewhere. The Village of Souls was his debut novel. It was first published in 1933 by Thornton Butterworth of London, England, a full fifteen years before there was a Canadian edition. Ryerson went some way in making up for the delay. This may be the publisher's most beautiful book.

Roloff Beny, a man I'd known only as a photographer, provides the cover and the illustrations that open each chapter.

Child wrote just five novels. I haven't read this one for the simple reason that it's set in seventeenth-century New France. As mentioned a couple of weeks back, I'm not drawn to historical fiction. Should I be giving The Village of Souls a chance? According to Ryerson, I'm missing out on a novel that "will live as a Canadian classic."

The Ryerson edition of The Village of Souls was published seventy years ago. The novel hasn't seen print since.

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