Mazo de la Roche: Rich and Famous Writer

The first thing that struck me about Mazo de la Roche: Rich and Famous Writer by Heather Kirk was its subtitle: of all the ways to describe the author, why choose that? It then dawned on me shortly after I started reading that this was really a juvenile biography, as it was peppered with imaginary scenes from the author’s childhood, including verbatim conversations. I loathed the preponderance of exclamation marks–an unfortunate yet common sight in juvenile literature–which is never a good thing in adult nonfiction. Who was Kirk’s targeted reading audience? One look at the author’s own website answers this question:

“This fun-to-read book is aimed at high-school students in Grades 10 to 12 and at adults who want a quick introduction to de la Roche. As well as conveying new facts about de la Roche, the biography entertains and informs with dramatic scenes that read like a novel.”

So there you go. I still feel that Kirk was talking down to the students, as I would have placed the target audience at the junior high school level. Yet still, if her aim was to introduce especially young people and adults to de la Roche, then I commend her.

Kirk published her book in 2006, ten years after Thirty-Two Short Views on Mazo de la Roche, which she credited in the section on consulted sources. I didn’t find much difference between these books aside from the selection of photographs Kirk used and the dramatic reenactments and dialogue from de la Roche’s past. It was a speedy read on account of the short paragraphs and voluminous invented quotations. Having just read a similar biography on the author certainly helped me race through this one.

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