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Sunday March 28, 2010 in Books
David French’s award-winning and ongoing dramatic cycle about the Mercer family, both in their native Newfoundland and later, as participants in the great outport clearances, relocated in Toronto, has become a defining part of Canada’s theatrical history.
Set in Toronto, the first play, Leaving Home (1972), introduced the family saga’s key figure, Jacob Mercer, who appears in all of the plays. Also in this series are Of the Fields, Lately (1973); Salt-Water Moon (1984); and 1949 (1988), which deals with this expatriate family’s reaction to Newfoundland’s entry into confederation.
With Soldier’s Heart, French looks back in time at the thoroughly alienated sixteen-year-old Jacob, standing on a railway platform, his suitcase and one-way ticket away from home in hand. His father Esau, a veteran of the First World War, rushes to the station in a last-ditch effort to persuade his son not to leave. Unable to speak of what had happened in the Great War since his return, Esau begins, in halting and tentative language to tell of his comrades and his brother, their training in Scotland, the agony of Gallipoli, and finally the formative events at the battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel. At first defensive in response to his son’s probing and impatient questioning, Esau’s answers evolve into stories of pride, foolishness, anger, desperation, and finally mindless terror, leaving only the image of a man driven by the blind animal instinct to survive. It is this devastating and unsparing account of all that is in a soldier’s heart, that finally brings father and son back together. Cast of 3 men.
ISBN 13: 9780889224636 | ISBN 10: 889224633
6 W x 9 H inches | 96 pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000
About the ContributorsDavid French
Born in Coley’s Point, Newfoundland, David French was one of Canada’s best-known and most critically acclaimed playwrights. His work received many major awards, and French was one of the first inductees into the Newfoundland Arts Hall of Honour.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.