Although Ethel Wilson’scanon is small, it is of high quality. The writing style is direct, simple, and expressive. Only occasionally, in the early books, does the diction or syntax call attention to itself as excellent. In general, only if one should try to paraphrase a passage or change a word would he or she become aware of that rightness of style that is typical of an artist. Passages describing the beauty of nature are most immediately impressive. Wilson’s account of the train journey of the Edgeworths across Canada to Vancouver, in The Innocent Traveller, offers a vivid impression of the countryside and evokes the haunting vastness of the plains and forests stretching northward from the train track to the Arctic Circle. Magnificent descriptions of the northern lights occur in more than one book, and the mist-shrouded or sun-brightened mountains of the Vancouver area are sketched with a sensitive pen.
Less frequent but equally impressive are descriptions of unsightly scenes, such as the interior of the slovenly Johnson apartment in Tuesday and Wednesday (published in The Equations of Love). It is not only in description, however, that Wilson excels; her humor is deft, ironic, and humane in passages such as the chapter “Nuts and Figs” in The Innocent Traveller, in which Great-Grandfather Edgeworth, in his declining days, proposes to two worthy lady friends in one afternoon and is refused, to the gratification...
(The entire section is 3548 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Ethel Wilson Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!