Susanna Moodie

Roughing It in the Bush

Book reviewed by Tanja Hütter

July 27, 2017

The graphic novel Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush offers a vivid view of a remarkable woman and of the lives of early nineteenth-century pioneers.

The project began as a screenplay and involved a collaboration between coauthors Patrick Crowe and Carol Shields. The latter had a lifelong interest in Moodie, who had been the subject of her master’s thesis. After Shields’ death in 2003, Crowe wasn’t motivated to continue the project — but he eventually found new inspiration in the area of interactive graphic novels. Willow Dawson adapted the screenplay, and Selena Goulding spent eighteen months working on the illustrations.

The book’s glossy pages are rich in colour, and the artwork is quite expressive. Goulding intuitively captures Moodie’s evolution from an attractive, relatively sheltered wife through the events that challenged her physically and mentally. The lines in her face grow with each test of character.

Crowe tells readers that Shields intended to deliver a dramatic arc to Moodie’s story, and psychological truths therefore triumph over historical truths. For those who are excited by illustrated histories, Susanna Moodie will not disappoint.

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