Saturday 27 August 2011

Alone in the Classroom

Finished August 21
Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay
This is a novel that crosses several time periods, told by Anne.
The earliest time is 1929, in a small town in Saskatchewan, where Connie Flood is a young teacher. The new principal, Parley Burns, unsettles many in the community. Connie finds his attentions unwelcome, while another teacher is drawn to him. Burns starts a dramatic club that puts on a play, and singles out a particular girl with tragic results. Connie takes a young man with a learning disability under her wing for special tutoring.
A few years later, in another town near Ottawa, Connie, now a journalist encounters Burns again when she is working on a story around a young girl who went missing. While in town she boards with Anne's grandmother, and her younger brother eventually marries Anne's mother.
As Anne looks back on the events that occurred in her and Connie's lives we see the patterns, and the parallels. One of the patterns is threes: principal, student, teacher; grandmother, mother, daughter; aunt, niece, lover; mentor, teacher, student. Another is the influence of older male on younger female. We see the results of obsessive love on people's lives. We also see how events early in a person's life can stay with them throughout the rest of their lives. This is a book about relationships, emotions, and impulses.
A good read.

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