Tuesday 12 March 2013

Queen of Hearts

Finished March 11
Queen of Hearts by Martha Brooks

This teen novel is set in rural Manitoba in 1941-42. Marie Claire Côté is fifteen and living with her parents and younger sister and brother near St. Felix. Her wandering uncle Gérard comes to visit as he has often in the past, but this time he stays longer. He isn't well, and finally is diagnosed with tuberculosis. There is a sanatorium on the other side of the valley from the Côté farm, and Gérard goes there. His pet name for Marie Claire is Queen of Hearts and the two have a special closeness. Even though she is told not to, she sneaks away to visit her uncle.
When her younger brother Luc gets a bad cold and their hired man leaves, Marie Claire is drafted into helping out, working hard either with her father out on the land or with her mother in the kitchen. She becomes lethargic as well, and when her brother takes a turn for the worse, all three children are found to have tuberculosis and go into the sanatorium. Marie Claire takes it hard, at first rebuffing the offered friendship of her roommate Signy, a girl slightly older than her. But then she finds that the sanatorium is its own world, and begins to form relationships.
This is an interesting novel of a certain time in our history, and one gets a sense of the world Marie Claire lives in.


  1. I remember my parent always worrying about TB. I know when I tested positive they nearly died. It turned out to be nothing, as I'm still here, but what a time it was in our history indeed. Thanks for your review. When I read your title I immediately thought of a lady I worked with years ago, she was round and jolly, and had these fabulous laugh lines, I don't know why but she always reminded me of the queen of hearts.

  2. It's funny how certain phrases can make us think of a person or situation. Glad your TB was minor. I've noticed a few more instances of it in the news recently, particularly with homeless. A sad sign of the times.

  3. I read this one a while ago now and actually thought it was very good. Interesting characters, and a really unusual setting!