Terry McConnell’s Lethbridge presents a poignant portrait of Canada’s Prairies in the early 1900s, as well as a rousing, sometimes harrowing, recollection of the capture of Vimy Ridge by Canadian soldiers during the First World War.
Through remarkable twists of fate, the paths of the three main characters intersect, diverge, and then intersect again. Their courage and indomitable will, as they meet challenge after challenge, aptly demonstrates the strength of the human spirit. In particular, the indefatigable Stan possesses a resourcefulness that allows him to navigate a difficult situation in a most creative, and rather humorous, way.
Lethbridge is a pleasurable read for anyone interested in Canadian history and the First World War—or in the undeniable power of love. Read more
Lethbridge is a wonderful story, roughly based on the history of the McConnell family in Canada. The story begins at the start of the 20th century. It is uniquely Canadian. Terry skillfully covers many Canadian issues of the day, such as prohibition in the United States, Canada's role in WWI, the Barnardo Boys sent to Canada, and American attitudes to the European conflict.
Terry weaves all these stories into the wonderful love story of his grandmother.
When facts are required, Lethbridge is extremely well-researched and accurate. It could serve as a history book for young people beginning to learn about WWI.
Terry takes an extremely complex and difficult time in history and makes it a compelling story. By using the history of his own family, Terry makes Canada and WWI come to life. This is simply a wonderful Canadian novel that should launch Terry to national prominence as a writer and historian.
WALTER O’ROURKE, Google Books
I don't often write book reviews and just as rarely do I give a book five stars. It's got to be a standout. Terry McConnell's Lethbridge is just that and one of the best stories I've read in a long time.
It's a fascinating tale inspired by the author's own family history and how it all came together in Lethbridge, Alberta. An important part of the book is the lead-up to the Canadian army's seizure of Vimy Ridge in 1917, leaving me surprised at how little I really know about a significant event in Canadian history.
But that was just one element of many that kept me engaged from beginning to end. At one point I wondered if there might be a sequel. I didn't want such a good story to come to an end.
I have known the author for many years but I was surprised to learn this is his fifth book. I look forward to reading more.
TONY RICHARDS, Amazon.ca
( Edited for length. The full account can be read here.)
What a wondrous story McConnell weaves, this tale of the love story between his grandparents Stanley and Hettie Knowlton and their surrounding cast of friends and family. It’s all set against the backdrop of World War I and the epic 1917 battle at Vimy where, eminent historian Pierre Berton once wrote, “our country found its manhood.” Its scenes unfold in different countries and cities — from London to Boston, Maine to Niagara Falls and, of course, Lethbridge, Alberta to Vimy, France.
Vimy was a defining moment in the history of Canada and in McConnell’s family history and the author does a masterful job in honouring his ancestors in this compelling narrative.
(Full disclosure: Terry is a good friend and former publisher so some may consider my review biased. Oh, but I know a great story when I read one and — damn the personal biases! — this is one helluva story.)
Let’s start with the compelling characters.
Hettie is a larger-than-life figure. As a reader, I suppose I would have wanted to read more about her but that’s the thing with strong characters — you can never get enough of them.
Her will and strength is matched by that of her beloved Stanley and his counterparts who fought bravely in the important and bloody Battle of Vimy Ridge. She learned her lessons, perhaps, from the land she called home — Lethbridge — and from the indomitable example of her mother Annie.
I won’t disclose more details about Lethbridge as that would sap the story of some of its surprises and startling details. I will say the section in which McConnell alternates scenes between the “bedlam and bloodshed” that takes place at the front and Hettie reading accounts of Vimy Ridge in the newspaper back in Alberta is very well done. So, too, is the pitch-perfect ending of this book.
CLAUDIO D’ANDREA, Medium.com
At the heart of this book is a love story that begins in the early 1900s with a focus on the First World War and all of its many consequences. I had tears in my eyes many times and I cried.
This story is enlightening while simultaneously being heart-breaking and uplifting. The fact that this book is based on real family members of the author, Terry McConnell, makes it all the more compelling.
I sat down to read this book and I didn't stop reading until I was finished. It touched my heart.
JOYCE CHAUVIN, Amazon.ca