A NovelBook - 2007
In the grand literary tradition of Gore Vidal's novels about American political history, Roy MacSkimming has conjured an extraordinary novelistic recreation of the last days of Canada's indomitable first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
Narrated by his private secretary, Joseph Pope, Macdonald opens with stirring scenes of Sir John fighting his last great election battle on issues that uncannily echo our national concerns today. The year is 1891, and there is a very real fear of absorption by the United States.
Meanwhile, a political scandal in Quebec threatens to topple Sir John's government. Exhausted by his electoral victory, the old leader fights to keep his iron grip over his party and life itself. Joseph Pope renders his chief in intimate detail, reveling the immense charm and personal magnetism that gave Macdonald such mastery over people and events. As the novel moves majestically towards his final hours, Sir John himself addresses the reader directly, reflecting on his past and present.
The spellbinding narrative features a memorable cast of characters ranging from President Ulysses S. Grant, Louis Riel and Sir Wilfrid Laurier to Macdonald's feisty second wife, Lady Agnes Macdonald, and their disabled daughter Mary.
Convincingly grounded in the political and personal passions of the day, Macdonald delivers a brilliant and exciting portrait of a young emerging nation and its greatest champion. At once seductively evocative and emotionally engaging, this is historical fiction at its best.