Shadows on the Rock is Willa Cather’s light, historical novel about the French in Quebec around 1700.
Apothecary Euclide Auclair came to Quebec as physician to the Count de Frontenac. When his wife died, Euclide was left to raise their daughter, Cecile, by himself.
His skill at compounding drugs makes Euclide welcome in homes of the elite as well as the poor.
At 12, Ceclie keeps house for her father, does all her mother’s charitable works, studies the classics, tends the shop when her father is out on calls, and spends hours playing with her friend, Jacques.
Between them, Euclide and Cecile know everyone and everything that goes on in Quebec.
Although there is always the potential for serious trouble from the British or the Indians, daily life revolves around petty annoyances that take on monumental proportions in the closed community. People take sides in the feud between the count and the old bishop and in the feud between the old bishop and the new one.
I kept anticipating a crisis that never came.
Euclie and Cecile are pleasant, but not memorable, characters. Their only heroism is in facing the daily monotony of their lives without complaint — a heroism that makes for better lives than for entertaining reading.Shadows on the Rock by Willa Cather Alfred A. Knopf, 1931 280 pages 1931 bestseller #2 My grade: C