Ann Birch is an award-winning teacher and a former associate professor in the Faculty of Education at York University and the University of Toronto. Currently, she assesses student profiles for Trinity College and belongs to the Presidents' Circle. She is the author of the historical novel Settlement. She lives in Toronto.
The untold story of scandal and political intrigue in early Toronto. Anna Jameson arrives in the tiny settlement of Toronto in November, 1836. She has come at the request of her estranged husband, but she intends to gather material for a new book, which will eventually be published in England years later. At first, Anna finds herself in an alien world. She has little in common with Toronto women whose interests centre on gossip and their families, but as she begins to move into adventures like sleigh-riding and helping to fight a major fire, she enters a new life. And she also meets man-about-town Sam Jarvis. But Jarvis has a loving wife, a pile of debts and a violent past. The story is told from both their points of view. She travels alone into the wilderness, becomes the first white woman to descend the Sault rapids in a canoe and discovers the joy of freedom. On Manitoulin Island, she and Sam Jarvis meet again. During a long canoe trip down Lake Huron, they wrestle with the conflicts in their relationship and arrive at a settlement.
Birch not only brings 19th century Canada to life but its characters as well. Gossipy women, pompous politicians, and a flawed hero and heroine are vividly described. Settlement is a first novel; I await the second.
While the author puts words in each of [the characters] mouths, and passion in their hearts, she also vividly and accurately recreates the world around them.