Always and After


293 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-670-88620-3
DDC C818'.5403




Reviewed by Pauline Carey

Pauline Carey is an actor, playwright, and fiction writer. She is the
author of Magic and What’s in a Name?


Ellen Stafford is a writer, editor, and founder of Fanfare Books in
Stratford, Ontario. In earlier years, she was the wife of a social
activist who became a Communist Party leader. Although she joined him in
actively protesting the injustice of our social system in the first half
of this century, she tolerated the fact that he was an abusive husband
for far too long. Several times she left and several times she returned,
believing his promises and teaching her children to submit to a violent
and drunken father.

Stafford’s easy prose masks a bitter tale of poverty and struggle
during the Depression years in Western Canada. She brings alive a time
in our history when unemployed men were shipped off to work camps in the
wilderness, when women were dutiful housewives and mothers who always
stood by their man, when communists were social pariahs. Stafford did
not escape the drudgery of those lean years, but by assisting her
husband in his political work she unwittingly developed the organization
skills that would stand her in good stead in later life.

In the opening pages, Stafford asserts that she will never forgive the
man she married. In the end, she admits that she is also to blame. She
was born bright and allowed herself to become a victim. “How can I
forgive her, the girl I used to be?” Such questions are part of our


Stafford, Ellen., “Always and After,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 17, 2022,