Blueberry Cliffs


70 pages
ISBN 0-88750-943-6
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Susan Patrick

Susan Patrick is a librarian at Ryerson University.


This short novel, set in Ontario’s cottage country in the summer of
1934, concerns a family whose outward stability is rocked by a young man
who enters their lives. The events of the summer are revealed through
three sources: the cryptic diary of the unstable wife, who obliquely
comments on her human family by describing her family of driftwood
animals; letters from her husband, Hugh, an idealist who has led a life
of repression, to their new friend Martin; and the stories and thoughts
of their young daughter. Summer becomes winter, and the idyllic life of
canoeing and swimming in Martin’s company, symbolized by the blueberry
cliffs, is replaced by mobs in Toronto, gossip and adultery, Martin’s
exodus to England, and his subsequent rejection of Hugh’s friendship.
In time Hugh comes to accept and admit the nature of his obsessive love
for Martin.

The novel, which initially draws the reader with its images of cottage
life in the 1930s, resonates with a wistfulness that is intensified by
our hindsight knowledge of the repression and intolerance of society at
that time.


Helwig, David., “Blueberry Cliffs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,