Mary Ann Alice


168 pages
ISBN 0-88899-454-0
DDC jC813'.54






Mary St. Onge-Davidson is president of the Essential English Centre in


Brian Doyle’s latest novel is filled with both sensitivity and humor.
Its narrator, Mary Ann Alice McCrank, is a young teenage girl growing up
in the rural town of Martindale, Quebec. The town is located in the
Gatineau River region, an area Mary Ann Alice finds especially
interesting for its rocks and fossils. The region’s beauty and history
are threatened by the construction of a new dam at nearby Low.
Particularly vulnerable are the caves under the famous Paugan Falls. As
construction of the dam proceeds, the teen struggles to deal with the
subsequent changes—both negative and positive—that are imposed on
the area, as well as on the people and things she has always known and

From the very start, Doyle’s style captivates our interest as we
begin to see through Mary Ann Alice’s eyes. Readers will delight in
her witty reflections and inner conversations, which Doyle employs to
recount facts about the people, geology, and history of the area. The
entire narrative is embellished with local expressions and mannerisms
leaving the reader with a true sense of having been there. Although
Doyle has altered the actual time it took to complete the dam, all other
historical detail is deemed accurate. Some readers may recognize a few
characters who appeared in Doyle’s Up to Low (1996) and Uncle Ronald
(1996). The new cast of characters in Mary Ann Alice is unforgettable.
Highly recommended.


Doyle, Brian., “Mary Ann Alice,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 21, 2024,