Frederick Philip Grove (1871–1948) was one of Canada’s most prolific authors. His novels include Settlers of the Marsh (1925) and Fruits of the Earth (1933). His autobiography, In Search of Myself (1946) won a Governor General’s Award.
I read all of Grove’s novels when I started my PhD work, and found them very compelling. Grove had a very serious and thoughtful sensibility; but when his son, Leonard, showed me the adventure story he had written for him when Leonard was a boy, I saw that Grove had another side as a lively writer for young people. They lived in Simcoe, Ontario, then. It would have been quite possible for a young lad on a raft to get washed out into the Great Lakes.
--Mary Henley Rubio, 2015
This is one of my new favourite books. It's a great read and a satisfying story.
--Ruby Catherine Collins, age 12
Frederick Philip Grove (1871–1948) wrote one children’s novel in his lifetime, a gripping tale of survival, resourcefulness, and intrigue set in Depression-era Ontario. Published in installments in a church magazine, however, the novel was heavily redacted and failed to receive the attention it deserved. Available for the first time as a book designed for young adults, The Adventure of Leonard Broadus reveals a surprising side to one of Canada’s most important novelists.
The coming-of-age story of Leonard Broadus begins with a robbery and a runaway raft-adventure. In the style of classic children’s stories such as Swallows and Amazons and Huckleberry Finn, the danger that follows soon begins to feel very real. Grove was a first-rate writer and story-teller, with keen abilities as a realist. Ontario in the late 1930s is depicted as a very different society than today, with impoverished men travelling the countryside in search of work. Research has shown us that Grove was a man of many sides who had emigrated to Canada from a dark past; Leonard meets a range of colourful characters during his adventure, recalling Grove’s own early travels in Canada (if not, perhaps, even reflections of Grove’s own complex personality).
This fast-moving and very readable narrative in which virtue and courage triumph reflects an emotional density in which a young boy must dig deep to find the resourcefulness and endurance to survive unexpected circumstances. Leonard, like Grove, is a charming and likeable character, but there is a curious intensity about him, and about the story as a whole, suggesting more complexity than meets the eye.
5.5 X 8.5
Available October 2015
Paperback • $14.95 (list)