This month's meeting has been very special. Linda's book choice for this month was Matrons and Madams by Her Excellency Sharon Johnston. Our charming Linda through her connections, got us an invitation to Rideau Hall to meet with Her Excellency in person. Present were Beth, Betty, Carla, Colette, Jane, Janet, Linda, Shirley and Michèle along with guests we were able to bring with us. We were 23 persons all together, including the original organizer of the Bookclub Marilyn Dow.
|Bookclub members and their guests with Her Excellency Sharon Johnston|
|Muse & Views Bookclub members with Her Excellency Sharon Johnston|
Her Excellency Mrs. Johnston was extremely gracious and gave us a lot of information about the research she did to write this historical novel and she read two paragraphs from the book, one about Matron Clara Durling and one about Lily Parsons. During the discussion we learned that Clara Durling is based on Mrs. Johnston's grandmother who had been the Matron at the Galt Hospital in Lethbridge, Alberta. Mrs. Johnston did a lot of research in Lethbridge, returning seven times and reading all the minutes of the Board of Governors of the Galt Hospital and newspaper accounts of activities and events that involved the Galt Hospital and the Matron of the hospital. By reading the minutes she was able to acquire a fair amount of knowledge on the interaction between different board members and Matron Durling. She was able, for example to better understand the animosity one particular physician/surgeon had for her grandmother and incorporate this difficult relationship in the novel.
From questions that our members asked we learned that the process of taking this information about her family history and turning it into a historical novel was difficult and sometimes emotionally painful.
We also learned that this is the first of a trilogy of historical novels based on her family history. The next book will probably be out in the Fall of 2018. Though Mrs. Johnston was reluctant to go into great detail about the future novels, she did tell us, as we can guess from the end of this novel that the next book will be set in part in residential schools for indigenous children, a difficult and controversial topic in our country.
During the discussion, His Excellency Governor General David Johnston sat down with us for a short while to listen to Mrs. Johnston discuss her novel with us and he also put in his two cents about the research and writing process.
After the discussion, tea, coffee and apple cider along with some wonderful cookies were served and Mrs. Johnston signed her book for members who had a personal copy. She was very generous with her time and the members and our guests were very appreciative of the time and information she gave us.
|The Tent Room|
We were afterwards, given a tour of the public rooms of Rideau Hall along with the Monck wing that is not always open to the public. We were also able to visit the Green Houses that are attached to Rideau Hall. Our tour guide Sophie gave a us excellent history of Rideau Hall as we toured and were able to admire the impressive quantity and quality of Canadian Art that is displayed in the rooms.
|Sophie our very informative guide and our Bookclub member Shirley|
It was an extraordinary meeting of the Muse & Views Bookclub and we thank our member Linda and her friend Norma for organising it for us. We also thank Her Excellency Sharon Johnston for hosting such a memorable meeting for us. Lastly of course, this being the home of the Vice-Regal couple of Canada, our member Janet gave us a Royal wave at the end of our meeting!
|Janet giving us a Royal wave!|