HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Black Rock: A Tale of the Selkirks
Author: Ralph Connor
Publisher: Publishers of the Valley, 2018
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Teens and adults
Rating: ***** 5 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Connor, Ralph. Black Rock: A Tale of the Selkirks (published in 1898 by Grosset and Dunlap, New York City, NY; republished in 2018 by Publishers of the Valley). It is 1882, and the author, who narrates the story as Connor, is a sometime medical student and artist who is in the Selkirks of western Canada trapping. At Christmas time, he comes to the village of Black Rock, a mining and lumberjack boom town where his friend from university named Leslie Graeme operates a lumber camp. Together, they join with a new minister, Mr. Craig, and a miner’s widow, Mrs. Mavor, who bring the fight for men’s souls to the doors of the seedy saloons. The plot involves schemes, fights, and double-crosses which abound in the back-and-forth battle, played out in the lives of several well-developed, larger-than-life characters. What happens to their efforts? How successful will they be? And who, if anyone, can win the hand of Mrs. Mavor?
Ralph Connor was the pseudonym for Dr. Charles William Gordon (1860 – 1937), a Canadian writer who published over thirty novels, including The Man from Glengarry (1901) and Glengarry School Days (1902), and sold more than five million copies of his books during his lifetime, making him an internationally best-selling author. Gordon was educated at the University of Toronto and became a Presbyterian minister in 1890. Black Rock, Connor’s first novel, does contain references to smoking tobacco. Otherwise, it is a story that encourages doing right, trying to help others, and making wise choices but is not overly “religious.” There is a little bit of romance, but it is mostly adventure. Some have identified Connor as a Canadian version of Grace Livingston Hill for men. I do not remember now who recommended Black Rock to me. I have previously read and reviewed The Sky Pilot by Connor, which I had inherited from my father.