Paradise Siding


124 pages
ISBN 0-86492-027-X




Reviewed by Michael O. Nowlan

Michael O. Nowlan was a teacher and writer in Oromocto, New Brunswick.


Although Allan Donaldson was born in western Canada in 1929, he grew up in Woodstock, New Brunswick. With the exception of a short time spent at McGill University, he has spent his life in his adopted province where he teaches English at the University of New Brunswick.

His youthful years in Woodstock are the backdrop to Paradise Siding. These seven stories depict youth growing up in the period of the Depression and the beginnings of World War II. Donaldson’s life was peopled with unusual characters whose traits long remained in vivid memory. From these memory banks, he shows us an old sergeant, a miserable grandmother at Christmas, a refugee, an eccentric neighbour, two old maiden sisters, and Ruby. “Ruby” is a sad but realistic story of what happens to a young girl when she has no principles on which to structure her life. The final, and title, story, “Paradise Siding,” is an interesting portrayal of the curiosity of human nature.

Although Donaldson’s prose is labelled as stories, these passages are more appropriately narrative essays. They may be fictional in many respects, but they are not short stories as such. “God Bless Us Every One,” the best selection in the book, is the only one that generates true suspense in the reader.

Nevertheless, all seven selections are significant glimpses of a time in Canada that must be recorded for future generations. This Allan Donaldson has done well. His narrative is entertaining and informative.


Donaldson, Allan, “Paradise Siding,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,