Sunday, September 16

Book Review: Hetty Dorval

Title: Hetty Dorval

Author: Ethel Wilson

Pages: EBook - 106

Summary: Seeking refuge from her mysterious past, the beautiful Mrs. Dorval arrives in a small British Columbia town at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. As Frankie Burnaby, the young schoolgirl Mrs. Dorval befriends, pieces together Hetty’s story, she begins to realize that her enigmatic idol is also a treacherous opponent.

Hetty Dorval, Wilson’s first novel, is a wise and expertly crafted tale of innocence and experience.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: The book started out strong, as it pulling me in right away. Unfortunately I found that the book was far too similar to books I've read before and that it followed a very stereotypical and predictable plot path.

The narrative was spectacular. I enjoyed the writing style, and how the narrative flowed throughout the book. It pulled me in from the start, and it's what kept me reading until the end. I almost wanted to savour the book, just on the writing and narrative alone. Although this particular story didn't grip me the way I wanted it to, I will read more by the author, as the writing was incredible.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book wasn't so spectacular. The story started out alright, but it turned to "I've read this before". It had a very stereotypical plot and characters. Taking place in a small community, where a new and somewhat strange women rolls in, who stuns and amazes people around her and of course a "scarlet woman". So of course she's seen as a bad influence on certain people and of course seen as manipulative. It was predictable and repetitive when Hetty continues to reappear and how she affected the lives around her. I also wasn't a big fan of the actual characters, and again it's because I felt I've seen them all in previous books before, there was nothing overly special that made me take notice of them.

Interestingly enough for the first half of the book, I didn't see Hetty as the person others saw her as. I was hoping this was a book showing how peoples misconceptions on people can affect the lives of everyone around them. But the book eventually turned to something different, which isn't entirely a bad thing, but it wasn't what I was looking for in a story. As I said before, I've read books to close to the same plot line before, so I grew bored with it. But it does kind of show how the author did a good job at structuring the book.

Overall, beautiful narrative and writing, but an average story - yet I will read the author again, the writing was just to good not to seek her out again.

Would I recommend it to read: I probably would. I didn't enjoy the story side of the book, but did enjoy the narrative and writing. But I do think this book is right up there for a must read book for a lot of other readers out there.

What to read next: I would defiantly read the author again, Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Room With a View

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI


  1. Hm, but isn't it special that Hetty Dorval was written before so many of the books that have taken up similar ideas? Not that I don't think the story on its own is strong, but considering what other works were being produced at the same time (in Canada, by women, in particular) adds a layer of importance to this work, doesn't it? And, well, yes, I'm partial to Ethel Wilson...

  2. Yes, I suppose it is special. But even so, once you read one book, they all seem to be the same on this topic. The author is a fantastic writer, so I will hunt her other works down, this one just wasn't my favourite book out there. I had two books on preview on my Kobo this one and Swamp Angel, and I randomly chose this one to be my first read. What other books by her would you recommend?

  3. My favourite is Swamp Angel but one main reason for the appeal is that she wrote this story of a woman taking steps away from an exhausting relationship long before it was a trend, which is kind of what makes HD stand out, too, so I'm not sure you'd enjoy SA as much as I do.

    The Innocent Traveller is rather episodic and has a brighter tone to it: it's very character driven and a lot of fun (if you like Topaz, probably annoying if you don't, you'll know pretty quickly which camp you fall into).

    But you might actually enjoy her short stories more than her novels if it's her style that you're most enjoying, rather than the plots. Some of them are truly surprising!

    I'll be interested to see if you DO find a match with something of hers: I hope so!

    1. Well Swamp Angel is one of the books in this years top 50 for Canada Reads, most of which will be added to my TBR. I'll check out more of her stuff eventually.