By: Tamanna T., Staff Writer
In her historical fiction work Rebellion’s Daughter, author Judi Coburn depicts the struggle of being an outspoken woman in 19th century Canada. The novel encapsulates the journey of Eunice Whiting, who participates in a revolt against the upper class by dressing as a boy and contributing to the rebellion against Canada’s elite. The structure of the novel makes it easy for the reader to relate to Eunice — her character is the feminist protagonist the nation needed at the time.
Eunice hailed from a poor family and endured the death of her mother at a young age, which strengthened her resilience to fight in the rebellion. Dealing with an abusive father most of her life, she learns to grow from her surroundings and become a better person than him. She observes the misuse of power by the elite in Upper Canada in the 1800s, leading her to join the rebellion troops in uprisings across the country.
The story at times feels like a dystopian novel as Eunice contends with the government. She entangles herself with the troop of boys knowing the dangers that lie ahead, especially if her identity is revealed. Her personality and ability to tackle risky situations make her the perfect protagonist. She knows going against Upper Canada is no easy feat, but her bravery, vigour, and occasional recklessness lead her on to be a prominent rebel supporter. By understanding the convergence of power in an emerging country, Eunice becomes eager to make a difference as a young woman of the 19th century.
Rebellion’s Daughter shines light on the significant issues of the time — sexism, racism, and inequality of the classes. After Eunice lands in jail for stealing a horse, she meets a Black prisoner who motivates her to fight for the aforementioned issues. Through the protagonist’s journey, Coburn tackles the oppression of Black people and women, as well as the anxiety around prison abolition.
The plot of the novel encompasses the history of Canada gracefully, which does not come as a surprise as Coburn is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. By combining real life instances from the 1837 uprising in Canada with her own imagination, Coburn pens a truly memorable story.
The suspense of what happens after the rebellion is wonderfully resolved by the end of the novel. Readers are bound to get attached to Eunice’s character, and most will agree with her elitist perception of Upper Canadian society. Eunice’s fiery personality will leave readers wanting more and it’s what sets this novel apart from others.
Rebellion’s Daughter is available for purchase worldwide via Fernwood Publishing.