By Angela Collins

Learning by Heart is a poignant memoir of “the teaching life” in isolated communities in pre- and post-Confederate Newfoundland, a fine blend of personal and social history in which the Newfoundland setting is a strong presence throughout, a detailed backdrop for the book’s convincing realism. The thematic range of the stories is impressive; they are always engaging and sometimes very moving, never lapsing into sentimentality, melodrama, or easy nostalgia. There is a fine balance of intimacy and objectivity, compassion and judgement, which makes you trust the narrator’s perceptions and insights into the complexities of human emotion and behaviour.

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