Pierce: Six Prairie Lives
by A. Mary Murphy

Detselig, Canada, 2010. ISBN 978-1-550-59403-4.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 12/23/2011

Nonfiction: Biography; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Relationships

Using her grandfather's journals, letters, receipts, and other documents, Mary Murphy chronicles the lives of her grandparents and aunts who emigrated to Alberta, Canada from southwestern Pennsylvania. They lived privileged lives during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries compared to most people, although tragedy and heartache touched their lives, in spite of their advantages. Craig and Adele had four daughters and split their lives between Pennsylvania where three of the girls were born, and Alberta where most of their activities centered on the girls' schooling and their ranch.

For readers interested in prairie life, this biography gives a look into the everyday activities of the ranchers and their hired help. Their parents' devotion to the girls shines through the journal entries that document shopping, medical, and social activities of the times. In addition to numerous photos and other documents throughout the text, Murphy features excerpts from her grandfather's journals and grandmother's letters in the appendix that help bring her ancestor's lives into focus.

A. Mary Murphy is a lifelong writer whose doctoral work was in life writing. She teaches post-secondary classes in literature and film, continuing education classes in writing family history, leads travel study trips to Ireland, and has a freelance writing, editing, and mentoring business, Writing Life. This is her third book.

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