Joan McGrath is a Toronto Board of Education library consultant.
There is little in the life of Prue Sarn to suggest the heroine of romance. A countrywoman of the 1880s, she was born cursed with a harelip at a time and place in which this was an incurable misfortune and could lead to accusations of witchcraft. In the power of a brother wholly given to relentless avarice, she loves from afar the handsome weaver Kester Woodseaves, yet flees from his approach lest he see her disfigured face. Grinding though her life may be, this hard-driven woman has warmth and to spare for her invalid mother, for her slave-driving brother and his mistreated love, for all who cross her path. A life-affirming story of a generous heart, at last generously rewarded, Precious Bane was much admired at its first publication in 1924 and is welcome in handsome re-release, accompanied by not one but two introductions, one written to accompany the 1982 re-release, the other dated 1928, contributed by the then Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin.