A Fractured Mind by Debra E Meilleur could not be more topical, poignant or enlightening
Finally, In 2017 we are beginning to understand sexual inequality and demand there be consequences for the actions of the Harvey Weinstiens of our world. In early 20th century Ontario, sexual inequality was a fact of life, and the William Blows were free to act as they pleased, as reporting him would have resulted in “the constable (laughing) in my face”.
Mrs Meilleur, employing a simplistic writing style, depicts a clear picture of the starkness and isolation of early pioneering life peripherally, while focussing on a disturbing vision of the sexist (and racist) realities of the era.
Amelia, a strong and enlightened widow wonders why “men consider themselves smarter than women”. She understands that if “women were more educated they would become more independent” and indeed radically sends her daughter Lila off to university.
We join her on her rounds as a midwife of the Barrie region, where we are subjected to the horrors of sexual and mental abuse. It’s like a train wreck that we don’t want to see but are compelled to examine closely.
Elise when asked why she lets William hurt her responds: “because he’s my husband” knowing that when she fled to a nunnery, the nuns returned her.
Molly understands that she is penniless and has nowhere else to go.
Angela, whose uterus was protruding and slightly tilted, had fourteen live births and two still births in the past nineteen years because her husband “felt it was a woman’s duty to bear as many children as God blessed them with”.
After reading this novel, I better understand the world of sexual/mental abuse and inequality. Characteristics and limitations of both abuser and abused are clearly portrayed in a very accessible manner. As a somewhat naïve 21st century male, I feel better prepared to understand and act upon this pressing issue of our time.
I especially recommend this novel for parents and teachers to read with adolescents of all ages. The writing style and content will allow for both understanding and lively, enlightening discussion