canadian ~ twenty-first century literature since 1999

The Wind Seller
by Rachael Preston
Goose Lane Editions, 2006

Reviewed by Teri Marcotte

Imagine if you will, a woman whose passions are bound to her as tightly as her petticoats, living in an era of pure virtue and obedience. A nurse by trade, Hetty Douglas survives the Halifax Explosion, offering aid and comfort to the less fortunate and earning disgrace and ridicule in the process.

Duty bound to uphold the tattered dignity of her family, she enters into an arranged marriage with a prominent, respected pillar of the community and lives her days in the small town of Kenomee.

Noble Matheson lives with his mother in the same town. A handy man of sorts, a part time fisherman, Noble holds out for loftier pursuits. Living beyond the Minas Basin where he is unknown, cloaked in the mystery of penning his thoughts and desires that extend beyond his long suffering mother and the unreciprocated love of a girl named Lillian.

It is in this little town that the Esmeralda makes an unscheduled stop, bringing with it interesting crew members, intrigue and danger. The shipís name sake perhaps the most fascinating of all, dressing in menís clothing, raven hair billowing about her. Captivated as much by the people of the town, it is she who draws both Hetty and Noble into a life comparatively more provocative.
The dim light, the lack of air, the angle of the floor on which she is standing are all disorienting. Esmeralda has disappeared into the gloom. When Hetty reaches out to the side someone grabs her hand. Noble Matheson. Her first instinct is to pull away, but, her eyes still adjusting, she allows herself to be guided towards the bunk beds corralled on the side of the mess. Hetty smells the man she is here to tend before she can make out his form in the narrow berth. Breathing thickly through her mouth, she approaches the cot.
The story is deftly written from the perspectives of both Hetty and Noble, giving the reader a broader perception of life and social classes in the small seaside town.

Ms. Prestonís ability to craft a tale is evocative, emotive and flows seamlessly from start to finish. And to think, were it not for her husbandís discovery of a tin of Elinor Glynn writing books in a Prince Edward Island antiques store, this story would never have been told. A mere whisper on the salty sea air. Reading, for me, is like being a small child looking through a smudgy window. My nose pressed to the dirty pane, I want so much to see and to hear what is hiding in front of me. More often that not, I end up with nothing more than a dirty nose.

With The Wind Seller, Ms. Preston cracks the window wide enough for me to rest my elbows and breathes life into a stagnant cluster of memories tinged with imagination.

The Wind Seller is the second novel for Rachael Preston. Her first novel is Tent of Blue. I look forward to many more.

Teri Marcotte is a writer who can often be found sitting patiently in front of dirty windows, a wad of tissues in her hand.






TDR is produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

All content is copyright of the person who created it and cannot be copied, printed, or downloaded without the consent of that person. 

See the masthead for editorial information. 

All views expressed are those of the writer only. 

TDR is archived with the Library and Archives Canada

ISSN 1494-6114. 


We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Nous remercions de son soutien le Conseil des Arts du Canada.